How To Find the Right Contractor

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In today’s “Do-it-Yourself (DIY)” age, we are often fooled into thinking there is no project too difficult to handle. Even if you’re a hardcore DIYer, chances are that you’ll eventually stumble across a project for which require professional help. In this case, you’ll need to hire a contractor to help you complete your project.

There are lots of contractors out there, but sorting through them to find the perfect contractor for your needs is difficult. Where can you find the right contractor to get the job done well?

Finding the right contractor is not as easy as making one phone call and hiring the first person you meet.  Selecting a competent contractor to complete a project requires a good amount of legwork, time, and energy.

“Buyer beware” is the mantra you must remember. Taking time to select the proper contractor from the start can make your life a lot easier and your project less of a financial burden in the long run. Here are some tried and trusted sources that will help you in your quest to find the right person to complete the job.

Start Online

The Internet is an excellent way to search for contractors. Looking online, you can toss together your initial list, and then you can do more in-depth research on each company.

The two most helpful internet resources for this type of search are Angie’s List and the Better Business Bureau. Angie’s List is one of the largest providers of consumer reviews and ratings on all types of local service providers, from home contractors to doctors and dentists. It’s a member-only site where people can add contractors with whom they have worked and write reviews.  It’s great because it has unbiased reviews of local contractors from over 140 US cities.The major downside of Angie’s List, however, is that you have to pay to access its listings.

The Better Business Bureau is another wonderful resource, and membership is not required to access reviews. Companies pay to be members of the BBB, yet consumers provide completely unbiased reviews of both member and non-member companies.  The BBB will tell you if there’s ever been a complaint against the contractor, if they have done a poor job or ripped a customer off.

Get Referrals

There’s nothing like the trusted recommendation of a family, friend, or co-worker. Recommendations can help you weed out the bad and focus on the reliable. Knowing someone that has worked with the same professional in the past can give you insight into how he/she works, what they do well, and what potential issues to be aware of. Even great contractors may have their quirks, and knowing what to expect can help you establish a better working relationship right away.

Interview and Get Quotes

One very important part of the contractor selection process is meeting the potential contractor in person. During this meeting, you’ll be able to determine if you feel comfortable communicating with the contractor and will have the opportunity to go over the project with him/her. This way, he/she is well aware of the work that needs to be done, and there will be no surprises for either of you.

Additionally, request a formal, written quote for your home improvement project. Obtaining a written quote will ensure both parties are on the same page as to the work that must be completed. This will also give you a chance to see how professionally the contractor has prepared the quote. If someone takes pride in preparing a quote, they will probably take pride in completing the actual work.

Check for Licensing

Licensing associations can be an excellent way to locate contractors or to investigate whether or not a contractor you have found is, in fact, licensed as he/she claims. It’s important that any contractor you select is licensed to do the required work. Check the Contractor’s License Reference Site where you can find out the requirements by state and check to see which contractors are legitimate before moving forward. It is also important that the contractor you ultimately select has insurance.

It’s hard to find a contractor and tricky to tell the good from the bad. Hopefully the above recommendations will put you on the right track to selecting the appropriate contractor for your next project.

Published or Updated: April 3, 2013
About Rob Berger

Rob founded the Dough Roller in 2007. A litigation attorney in the securities industry, he lives in Northern Virginia with his wife, their two teenagers, and the family mascot, a shih tzu named Sophie.

Comments

  1. Annie Mack says:

    If you don’t live in a major metropolitan area, Angie’s List is useless. We live in Delaware but the only thing on Angie’s List is in Philadelphia. Yea, we may only be 1/2 hour from Philly, but it’s like a whole different planet. I joined for one month and had NO luck finding anything and their customer service had no solutions to my problem. They refunded my money and we parted ways. Wait until they have a free trial and check it out before spending the money.

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