When you are considering hiring a contractor to do a large or small job, protect yourself and check them out. The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries as made it very easy to check out contractors. From the home page HiringaContractor.Lni.wa.gov, you can find out many things about your contractor. All you need is their name, owner's name or license number. Make sure they are currently licensed and registered with L&I. Check to make sure they pay workman's compensation insurance premiums. If they do not pay, you may be held liable if they are injured while working in your home. You can also see if there are any outstanding judgements against the contractor. Insurance and bond information will also be posted. Don't forget to click on the link to the Department of Revenue to make sure the contractor pays taxes. If the contractor is not paying taxes you may be held liable for all tax obligations related to your job, even if you have paid taxes to your contractor. This sounds like a lot to check but it only takes a few minutes and may save you money and heartache later.
If you want to find out more about your contractor, ask for a list of previous clients with jobs similar to yours. Don't be afraid to ask for a list of suppliers too. Suppliers can be a great reference about the contractor's employees and business. If the contractor has a job in progress, visit the site. Check out the cleanliness and security on the site. Most contractors will have subcontractors working in your home. Ask what they require of their subs. Do they have insurance, warranty and etiquette requirements for their subs?
If you would like further information on checking out a contractor, contact the Master Builder's Association in your area or the Department of Labor and Industries.