Homeowners depend on contractors for an extensive array of jobs. From plumbing problems to electrical issues to aesthetic upgrades, skilled contractors can be invaluable allies. However, as any seasoned homeowner can confirm, not every contractor is equally obliging. While some contractors have no problem completing jobs on time and on budget, others will cause you nothing but headaches. In addition to being intensely frustrating, hiring the wrong contractor can also prove financially strenuous, especially for homeowners on a tight budget. Anyone looking to avoid hiring the wrong contractor the next time they need work done will be well-served by the following tips.
Look for People Uniquely Suited to the Work
Some contractors wear many hats, while others prefer to stick to one area of expertise. So, if the type of job you need done requires a certain level of experience in a specific field, you’d be wise to limit your options to contractors who are well-versed in that field. For example, if you’re dealing with a wiring issue, a skilled electrician should be the person your reach out. Similarly, if you need work done on your roof, a dependable roofing contractor is the right person for the job. Homeowners on the hunt for experienced contractors can find the individuals they seek by going online and searching for “home improvement near me”.
Ask for Proof of Licensing and Insurance
Doing business with any contractor who can’t be bothered to put forth the time or effort to obtain a license is ill-advised. For a contractor, licensing essentially means that they’ve met the minimum requirements to for their respective line of work in their jurisdiction. If a contractor can’t even be troubled to do this, it certainly doesn’t bode well for their work ethic. Additionally, while unlicensed contractors tend to charge less than their licensed contemporaries, the saying “You get what you pay for” often applies. This isn’t to say that every licensed contractor does stellar work, but you’re far less likely to have a difficult time working with someone who took the time to get licensed.
Similarly, any contractor with whom you do business should be insured. This way, any damage that occurs throughout the course of their work will be covered. No matter how confident a contractor is in their skills – or how confident you are in their skills – insurance is an absolute necessity in this line of work.
Before committing to do business with a contractor, ask for proof of licensing and insurance. If they refuse to produce proof or attempt to give you the runaround, simply take your patronage elsewhere.
Get it in Writing
You should never permit a contractor to commence work until a detailed contract has been drawn up. This will ensure that you have a clear idea of what you’re being charged for and prevent you from being overwhelmed with hidden fees once the job is over. If a contractor refuses to provide a written contract, you shouldn’t work with them.
Read Customer Feedback Online
More often than not, the best way to learn about someone’s work ethic and business practices is speaking directly to former clients. No matter how much a contractor builds themselves up, you’ll need to consult customer reviews to get the full story. Fortunately, consumer feedback flows like water in the digital age. These days, simply searching for the name of a certain contractor or contracting company will give you access to feedback from a number of sources.
There can be a wide disconnect between the way a contractor – or any professional – represents themselves and the actual quality of their work. So, no matter how impressed you are by a contractor’s pitch, hold off on doing business with them until you’ve had the chance to consider input from their former clients.
Whenever a pressing issue with your home pops up, it pays to have skilled contractors on your list of contacts. However, if you’ve never worked with a contractor in the past, finding people you can trust is liable to prove somewhat challenging. Although some contractors are an absolute joy to do business with, others will heighten your stress levels and make a dent in your finances. So, in the interest of saving yourself a great deal of time, money and frustration, make sure to do your homework before committing to do business with a new contractor.