My friend Ray is the handiest person I know. He can fix just about anything. Ray occasionally hires people to help him with jobs around the house. And let me tell you — if Ray needs some outside help, then all of us do; hence, the important issue of other people working on your property.
People who help fix your home or business property typically fall into one of three categories: 1. friends who help for free (or for pizza), 2. loose connections who work for cash, and 3. contractors who do the work professionally.
Let’s break this down:
Friends: If friends are helping you, be sure to make sure the correct tools and safety equipment are provided. If a person is hurt on your property, especially if you invited them, you bear some responsibility for their injury. While a good homeowner’s insurance policy will often bear your financial responsibility, having to resort to insurance money can ruin a friendship. Be careful who you invite when works needs to be done, and if you really should hire a contractor, then do. It will be worth it in the long run.
Loose Connections: Neighborhood kids who mow your lawn for cash are technically working on your property. Once again, a good homeowner’s policy will provide some protection for you if a toe is severed by a lawn mower. While you might not discuss “liability” with a 13-year old, you may want to discuss it kindly with his or her parents beforehand. It is not bad manners to discuss who is going to pay if the worker is hurt and needs to go to the hospital. This is a good discussion to have with any person you are paying to work.
Professionals: A professional contractor should always have insurance and be willing to provide you with a certificate of insurance as proof. This insurance certificate should have your name and address on it, naming you as an “additional insured” as evidence that the insurance is still in effect. Keep this for your records.
Be thoughtful about who you hire or invite over to help you. What reputation do they have? Will they have the correct tools for the job? Are they motivated to work safely? How will they react if they get hurt? Your awareness beforehand will translate into safer property improvement.
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