We have all heard stories of homeowners who have been disappointed or cheated by inexperienced or unlicensed home improvement professionals. But thankfully, this doesn’t need to be your story. When you are looking for the right contractor to perform repairs or renovation, there are a number of easy ways you can make sure your home contractor is on the up-and-up.
Online reviews are a great way to get a clear picture of a contractor’s work, but testimonials can be unreliable or even fabricated. Check a variety of websites, click over to the Better Business Bureau online, and ask for a list of references you can call. Don’t forget to talk to family and friends about their experiences and recommendations. Using a trusted referral site will also help you weed out contractors who promise but never deliver.
Licenses, Bonding and Insurance
All the positive reviews in the world can’t make up for a contractor who isn’t licensed, bonded, or insured (even if they’re really great reviews). Your state or city may require contractors to hold licenses for certain types of work, such as plumbing, electrical wiring, and roofing. Never assume your contractor is licensed—ask to see their license to make sure it’s valid in your area. They should also be bonded and carry both liability insurance and worker’s compensation; if not, they’re not the right contractor for you.
Associations and Certifications
You don’t want just a great home contractor—you want an excellent one. Look for home pros with associations and certifications that go above and beyond the bare minimum. These contractors have demonstrated their dedication to excellence by pursuing additional certifications, memberships, and associations within their industry.
Portfolio and Pricing
The two things you care about most when hiring a contractor are the price and the result. Looking at a contractor’s portfolio will give you an idea of their personal style. Once you get a price quote, you can compare it to the before and after photos you’ve seen to determine if you’re getting the right balance of value for your money. One more thing: never work with a contractor who insists on getting paid in full before the job is done! A reputable contractor knows they shouldn’t be paid for work that isn’t complete.
Personality and Communication Skills
The key to a successful relationship is communication. When a potential contractor passes the checks above, it’s time to talk so you can make sure your personalities mesh. You should always feel comfortable with the way your contractor listens to you, answers your questions, and addresses issues both in person and over the phone.