At some point, just about everyone has to have a worker in their home to replace a broken water heater, paint a room or install new carpeting. Keeping your home secure when workers are around requires taking precautions and using common sense. Here are 10 safety tips for helping to keep yourself and your home safe when you have workers at your house.
1. Ask the company providing the service if it conducts employee background checks. If subcontractors are used, ask if subcontractor backgrounds are checked. For around $30, you can order a simple criminal background check yourself through your state's bureau of investigation. If you're having extensive work done, it can be well worth the cost.
2. Ask to see identification before letting a new worker into your home. If possible, have someone with you when workers arrive. You don't want it to look like you're regularly home alone.
3. Always ask for multiple references…and follow up on them. Ask about the quality of work and the workers' professionalism. Many handymen are not licensed, so it's important to find out what you can about their background before letting them in.
4. Use a licensed, bonded contractor and make sure the licenses are valid in your state. Good contractors will not risk losing their license by knowingly sending workers who could steal from you…or worse.
5. Ask your contractor about subcontractors. Learn how long subcontractors have worked with them, their dependability and what to do if you have complaints about a subcontractor. When dealing with a contractor and subcontractors, make sure the main contractor can be contacted easily and will return calls promptly.
6. Try to choose firms that work regularly in your neighborhood or general vicinity. If you regularly see trucks from a particular company in your neighborhood, it's a good sign that people trust them in their homes.
7. Ask the job supervisor how frequently individual workers should be expected on your property. Ask how long the job should take, too. Choose companies in which the supervisor is involved in the work and avoid companies in which the supervisor has little or no direct involvement.
8. Lock up valuables when you have workers in your home. Avoid leaving workers alone to wander around in your house. Dishonest workers will know you're vigilant and will be less likely to try anything. Carry your phone on your person whenever workers are in your home.
9. If a worker has a key, change your lock once the employee is no longer working for you. It's a bit of a hassle, but far preferable to coming home to a burglary scene. When workers complete their work for the day, check that all windows and doors are locked. Workers have been known to leave a door or window unlocked to gain unlawful access later.
10. Let your neighbors know when the work has been completed. They should be aware that there should not be contractor vehicles or workers around your home anymore. Ask neighbors to notify you if they see workers around your house after the job is supposed to be over.
Good contractors are happy to provide you with identification and licensing information because they hope you will provide good references for them or hire them again in the future. You may not always get the lowest bid when going with a respected company, but in most cases your safety and assurance of top-quality work will make a slightly higher cost well worthwhile.