Looking for a new contractor? The state of your wallet and your home could change drastically depending on who you pick. Here are some tips for finding a fair, reputable, and capable contractor.
Do your research!
Reputable companies and contractors will often have a strong online presence. This can include having a website and a social media presence, but also look them on third-party websites. See if they are Better Business Bureau accredited, and if they are, what their rating is. Websites like Angie’s List are also helpful to find feedback on contractors, or recommendations.
Can they explain it to you?
You don’t have to be an expert—that’s why you’re hiring a contractor! A reputable contractor will understand this and will be glad to explain to you what is going in your home and in their repairs. They should be able to explain it in a way that you can understand.
Hire a local contractor
Local contractors will understand the climate, soil, and other factors that might affect any work done on your house. Their prices should reflect a fair market value for the work done. Additionally, don’t allow someone who is going around knocking on doors to work on your home. In those situations, there’s a high risk that it’s a scam.
Do not pay upfront
You should not need to pay a reputable contractor before any work has been done. Some upfront paperwork, like a contract, is reasonable. You may also want to ask about insurance, especially for a large project. If a technician gets injured, you don’t want to pay for their hospital bill AND a replaced roof.
Create a paper trail
This is a worst-case scenario, but if you ever need to go to court over a dispute with a contractor, having a paper trail of any contracts or insurance they’ve shared with you will help you out. Paying with a credit card or with checks gives you more evidence as well, since they are much easier to track than cash.
Say NO to quotes over the phone
Pricing is the biggest gray area in the business. If someone offers a quote for you without seeing your house, you should be suspicious. How can they know the level of work required without seeing the issue? Once a contractor has been out to your house, it’s a good idea to have them write down the estimate in case either of you need it in the future.
Get referrals from people you trust
Facebook isn’t always the best way to do this— remember, you don’t want to find just any contractor. You want to find the right contractor. Ask the people that you trust in your circle of influence for recommendations, and be sure to follow up by asking what it is about any recommended contractor that makes your friend think that they would be a good fit for you.