As we go through the process of hiring people to help us around the house or with our family duties, the question often arises of whether or not we should do a background check on the new nanny, housekeeper or general contractor. We’re trusting these people to come into our home, interact with our precious children, or perhaps do a remodel of the master bedroom suite.
Since you know our mission at Premier Group International is to provide security and perform investigative services, I’m sure it wouldn’t surprise you when we declare a wholehearted “Yes” to doing the background check on anybody you interact with in your home.
Layers of Protection
How many times have you been in the car, miles from home, when you suddenly think, did I lock the back door? It happens to all of us at one time or another. We’re in a hurry, the kids are dragging their feet, or we have a plane to catch in an hour and haven’t yet walked out the front door. These are life’s everyday moments that get you so wound up you’re not sure if it’s your child in the car seat or the neighbor’s dog.
Keeping your family, home and property safe and secure today is more important and challenging than it ever was in the past. Our parents’ happy days have gone the way of the drive-in theater, sock hops and rotary phone. Leaving any door unlocked would be utterly crazy by today’s standards but this was common practice not that long ago and in some small rural areas still is the norm.
Times have certainly changed. While your home may be your castle, the 21st century citadel is under siege. What’s a king or queen to do?
Let’s talk about more ways to protect your palace.
Informed Intelligence on Smart Locks
Whether you have a once-a-week housekeeper or subcontractors coming in and out, or perhaps it’s that you can never remember if you checked all the doors before leaving the house, smart locks could be your answer. Although dramatically more costly than your standard deadbolt, these WiFi-enabled gadgets are a modern convenience that may bring peace of mind, thereby overriding the cost factor.
According to pcmag.com: You can find a few smart locks out there in the $100 range (not many of which made the cut for this list), but if you want a lock that you can control from anywhere, with features such as voice commands, push and email notifications, and tamper alarms, expect to pay somewhere in the $200 to $300 range.
Many smart locks offer a mobile app that allows you to lock and unlock doors with a simple icon tap. Some offer a web app that lets you control things from your desktop or laptop PC. Most apps let you add permanent and temporary users and set access schedules for specific days and times.
Keep in mind that if your using Bluetooth, you’ll have to be in close proximity, which if you’re inside and just want to lock the doors that’s fine. WiFi, though, gives you the luxury of locking/unlocking doors from anywhere, if connected to your home router.
Higher-end smart lock models offer voice activation, geofencing (if you leave a predetermined area or doors are left unlocked for a specific amount of time the doors will automatically lock), and other features, such as keyless touchpads, alarms that signal tampering or forced entry, and push, text, and email notifications that alert you in real time who is coming and going.
Are You Ready for Your Close-up?
Let’s talk doorbell cameras. Many captures from doorbell cameras have been making the news lately. Porch pirates (thieves that snatch packages off your front porch after a delivery) are commonplace. Criminals are more brazen than ever. The police can only do so much but having a clear mugshot of the thief helps. Let’s be frank. These cameras won’t stop anyone from grabbing your Amazon goodies off your porch, unless you upgrade to the search-and-destroy, laser-beam model (FYI: that was a joke) but another layer of security isn’t a bad thing.
In an article on best video doorbells for 2019 asecurelife.com indicated: The top of the line Nest Hello is an aesthetic doorbell built with a strong camera and solid night vision performance. But its extra abilities like facial recognition make the Nest Hello our favorite doorbell camera. While most doorbell cameras tell you when someone is at your door, the Nest Hello can tell you who is at your door. That’s really cool.
Doing Your Due Diligence
Okay, we’ve mostly talked about keeping people out, but what if they must come in?
Back in the Dark Ages, a time predating the Internet, doing background checks on housekeepers, contractors, and repair people was spotty at best. References could be called, but who knew who was on the other end of the phone? With the onset of the Web, doing background research has become easier, though not entirely foolproof. Online reviews can be faked either for good or bad, so get information from multiple sources and not just Yelp or Facebook reviews.
Sites such as your local Better Business Bureau or ca.gov allow you to check a contractor’s license and view any filed claims or disputes. Once again, even though a contractor may have a clean record, that doesn’t make him Honest John. A referral from a friend, family member or co-worker is a good place to start.
When hiring a contractor, consider these subtle red flags:
- Someone knocks on your door and asks if you need a contractor.
- The contractor offers you a discount if you can drum up more business for them.
- The contractor has unused materials from a previous job.
- You feel pressured to make quick decisions.
- The contractor asks you to pay everything up front or recommends a lender the contractor knows.
- There is no business number in the phone directory for the contractor.
- The contractor has no fixed street address.
- The contractor asks you to get building permits. This is the general contractor’s job, and if they avoid doing it, then this signals there is a problem.
- The contractor offers a long-term or lifetime guarantee on the work they perform.
Contractors and Contracts
To sum up, make sure the person you hire is really a licensed contractor. Ask questions. Meet in person. Check the references. If possible, visit current jobs the contractor is doing. Analyze the bids. You get what you pay for. Cheap isn’t always the way to go. Make sure communication is transparent and open. Establish a payment schedule (never pay in full up front). And for goodness sakes, write a contract and have the contractor sign it!