Whether you are buying a home or selling your old one, chances are you’ll have to do some repairs. While many cosmetic repairs are within the realm of DIY, many repair or renovation projects require the assistance of professionals. Finding a good contractor however may be easier said than done. Here are some tips to help homeowners find the right contractor for the job:
The good old internet is a great font of information. With some due diligence, you can find lists of local contractors and contractor reviews. Take everything with a bit of caution though, internet information is unregulated. Good reviews could come from friends, family, or the contractor themselves, while bad ones could be a single disgruntled person out to make trouble. Rating sites like Angie’s List can be helpful, but many may require memberships and fees.
Friends and neighbors, social networkers, coworkers, that knowledgeable guy working for years at the hardware store; ask people you trust for information. They can tell you who they’ve worked with and how it went. At the very least, you might learn who to stay away from. You can also contact your local Consumer Affairs or Better Business Bureau for complaints records or citations that will warn you off a contractor.
Tap Your Agent
Any agent with time in the business is going to know a few contractors. Agents also talk to each other and spread word of mouth about the experiences of their clients. Some agencies have preferred provider lists or connections that can get you faster responses, better service, or even a discount. Talk to your agent about your needs. A good agent can help you find reliable local contractors.
Network the Good Ones
If you have a good contractor, pick his brain for other professionals. A good, trustworthy, and dependable electrician is likely to have contacts with a good, trustworthy, dependable plumber and other maintenance professionals. Construction projects often take a range of skilled professionals, and local contractors tend to know each other by reputation and personal experience. Make the most of those contacts to locate the people your contractor likes to work with; these are the people you’ll probably like too.
When you have a few contractors to consider, always take the time to conduct an interview. Don’t just get an estimate; get the details on the contractor. As tempting as it may be to take the lowest bidder, quality always tells, and the best service is often worth the investment. Ask about their training and experience, professional certifications, and licenses. Make sure to work with ‘licensed, bonded, and insured’ contractors; it means they have money put aside and insurance coverage to handle any problems resulting from a worker mistake and the means to follow up on their guarantees. Ask for references and don’t be afraid to follow up on them. Make the calls and ask past clients if they are satisfied with the contractor’s work. Get the contractor talking about their industry and see if they can teach you about the work, especially if it is something you know little about. This makes you better informed about the project and about the contractor’s knowledge.
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About David Goldstein — David Goldstein is an Owner and Founding Partner of Express Schools, LLC. which operates online education providers Real Estate Express, Insurance License Express and License Tutor. Follow him on Twitter.