Hiring a drain contractor can be a bit like Forest Gump’s “box o’ chocolates” – you never know what you’re going to get. It doesn’t have to be that way, however, as long as you do your homework before appointing someone to perform the work you need done. Here are our top 10 things to check up on before you sign on the dotted line and give the contractor access to your home and plumbing installation.

#1: Licensing

Using an unlicensed drain contractor (or one whose license has lapsed) is just too risky in Toronto and the rest of the GTA. With any number of handymen out there posing as plumbers, construction workers, homebuilders and remodellers, it’s easy for them to offer lower prices for inferior work. But unless you can be sure they are working to the City’s strict building codes, you may regret using them when your renovations aren’t compliant and the building inspector tells you to redo everything! A licensed contractor needs to comply in order to retain his status, so verify his license by asking for the license number.

#2: Insurance

Every qualified, independent plumbing and drain contractor in Ontario is required to be insured against damages that occur during work on the customer’s premises. In addition, companies need to carry coverage for any injuries sustained by their workers. Employees need to be bonded to be insured, too, which gives you added protection against theft and other disastrous happenings.

#3: Company Website

Pretty much any company worth their salt has a website today. If they don’t, you have to ask why not. Don’t they need business? Are they legitimate? Who are they and what are they about? Sure, a website on it’s own doesn’t guarantee reliability, but it means they have an online presence and aren’t afraid to step up and show their digital face.

#4: Customer Reviews

Another benefit of choosing a drain contractor with an online presence is the likely existence of customer reviews. Companies with a strong digital profile are likely to have pages on social media sites such as Facebook, Google+ and Yelp, where you can read reviews written by their clients. Good reviews help you to know what you’re getting, while a few negative ones don’t necessarily mean the company is bad. What they do, however, is give you an idea of how well they provide after-sales service, handle complaints and attend to resolving problems.

#5: Fee Structure

Knowing upfront what your contractor charges is vital to ensure you get the best deal possible. It’s understandable that most plumbers in Toronto don’t publish their rates on their websites, simply because every job is different and it’s counter-productive to advertise one-rate-fits-all. But while it’s reasonable to give you an individual estimate for the work you need done, you also want to ask for their fee structure to be sure you aren’t paying for the time they spend travelling to you.

#6: After Hours Availability

Emergencies can happen at any time, and you might need to call out your drain contractor in the middle of a weekend. Check in advance whether they are available after hours and if so, what the fees are for emergency call-outs. That way, you can make an informed decision on whether to call them or not when something happens unexpectedly.

By taking the time to verify these important aspects of doing business, you’ll ensure that you get the right kind of service from the drain contractor you hire.