How to Hire a Contractor That You Could Recommend to Friends
Find a reputable contractor whose work you're sure to appreciate
By Stevie Donald
Hiring a contractor is a big decision. You may be spending a considerable amount of money on a home improvement project, and you need to find a contractor you can trust with the responsibility. Hire a contractor you'll be glad to recommend to your own friends by taking some basic steps towards an honest working relationship.
- What You Need to Know
- You'll need a list of local contractors, references from their most recent clients and their business names and license numbers.
Ask your own friends for a recommendation. Bear in mind that someone who did an excellent job replacing your neighbor's windows may not be as skilled at remodelling a kitchen. Ask for recommendations for someone who is experienced in the type of project you have planned.
Get two or three detailed estimates. Be as clear and honest as possible with the contractors about your expectations and goals and discuss cost variations. Don't base your decision only on the lowest price.
Bear in mind that transient and summertime-only contractors may be more abundant in springtime. Never accept a door-to-door solicitation for work on your home, no matter how good the deal may seem.
Plan well in advance. Good contractors are often in demand and have a waiting list of clients. This is especially relevant if the work you need done relies on fair weather, such as painting, roofing and landscaping.
Hire a local contractor. Someone who is part of your community and relies on her good reputation for getting work is much more likely to do professional, honest work on your home. In addition, a contractor that has been in business for a number of years must be doing something right.
Ask how long the contractor's subcontractors and helpers have worked with him. A good contractor keeps good help and subs who will work as a team on your project. Alternately, if the contractor runs his own crew, find out how long he's had his current employees and ask them discretely how it is to work for their boss. While they may not socialize with him, a employee who respects his boss, will usually say so.
Ask for proof of insurance or a certificate of liability for your job. If the work you need done relies on the contractor being licensed through your city, county or state, make sure that her license is valid.
Check with the Better Business Bureau to make sure the contractor is in good standing. A single complaint may or not be a concern if your contractor seems skilled otherwise; ask him to explain the circumstance. Multiple complaints are a red flag. In addition, check with your local housing authority to see if any complaints are on file at their office.
About the Author
Stevie Donald is a regular contributor to DexKnows. She has been a painting contractor since 1979.
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