Tips For Choosing The Right Contractor
Make no mistake about it, there are many contractors out there that do great work, but there are also many that do not. The best advice I can give you when it comes to choosing the right contractor is to slow down, take your time and educate yourself. Use word of mouth from friends and family, resources like the Better Business Bureau, or as my kids are always telling me “Google It Dad!”
I have put together some tips below that may help you. We have also put together some great information here on our website. If you can’t find it here, use our ASK THE EXPERT forum to see what other customers have asked…OR…ask us your questions and we will work hard to get you the right answer!
Just Remember…at the end of the day you have to ask yourself “do I trust this company”, if your gut says no, then keep looking!
“Educate your Mind but Trust your Gut!”
It’s really important to know who you are doing business with, where they come from, and how they operate.
Here are the factors that I consider when hiring a contractor:
“Professionals should look and behave like professionals in all aspects of their business.”
Whether I am dealing with office staff, an estimator, field technician or the owner, I expect them to be friendly, honest and polite. You should feel confident and respected from start to finish when dealing with a contractor. Communication is critical, if they don’t answer their phones or emails in a timely manner, then I don’t use them. Professional contractors will also have well maintained tools, vehicles and equipment to do the job right. If a contractor presents themselves to me in a professional manner, is confident and respectful from start to finish, then I consider them.
“Beware of the contractor that has been in business a long time, but has a shaky reputation, or vice versa, the contractor that has a lot of good reviews, but hasn’t been around very long”
For me, reputation and how long a contractor has been in business go hand in hand. The longer they have been in business AND maintained a solid reputation, the more likely I will be to give them a chance. Make sure you check their record with your local BBB or with a service like Angie’s List, I do!
“If a contractor doesn’t carry the proper general liability and worker’s compensation insurance to cover the work they are doing, then the only other person that may be held responsible should damages or injury occur on your property is you.”
Insurance is often overlooked by property owners when dealing with contractors. Everyone is so busy talking about the work and the price, they forget about what happens if something goes wrong. All contractors and subcontractors should carry the necessary general liability insurance should damage occur related to the work being performed. In addition, if the contractor has their own workers, then the proper worker’s compensation policy should be in place. If these aren’t in place and available for me to see if I ask, then they don’t come onto my property.
“Just because a contractor did a great job for someone somewhere else, doesn’t guarantee they will do a good job for you. Every job and every property is different.”
Many websites talk about getting references and phone numbers and seeing previous jobs the contractor has done. But they forget about people’s privacy. Would you want strangers calling you all the time or showing up at your property to take a look at work you had done? For me this is all about the estimate process. If the contractor can do the work, then they should be able to adequately explain what they are going to do, identify any problems and clearly explain how the solution they are proposing will address your situation. I also ask about any licenses and certifications they carry.
“If you are going to choose a professional contractor, make sure you take the time to meet with them.”
Everybody is busy…but how can you possibly make an educated decision as to whether or not to choose a contractor when you haven’t even met with them? Regardless of the size of the job, either myself or someone that I trust always meets with the contractors that I am considering. If you don’t you are taking a chance AND you are missing out on the opportunity to ask a professional any necessary questions about the job. Professionals don’t use pressure tactics, beware companies that will only meet if all the decision makers are present. They are only there for one reason, to pressure you into buying. Professional contractors want you to make an educated decision and meeting with them should be pressure free.
“The cheapest offers are often the most expensive.”
Price should not be the deciding factor when choosing a contractor. People often choose the lowest bid and ultimately discover that they get what they paid for. Price is still important, and making sure you get the best price, AND the best quality can often be done by getting multiple estimates. Just remember that you will likely get different prices on each estimate. In fact, pricing that is substantially lower than the others may indicate that the contractor will be cutting corners or using substandard materials. If one contractor is higher on price than another, but I really trust them the most, then I will contact them and ask them to explain the difference. I never make my decisions based solely on price.
“It’s only as good as the paper it is written on.”
If you are happy with the contractor and what they are proposing, make sure you get it in writing, and that both you and the contractor sign a contract. That protects you and the contractor and should spell out the work that is going to be completed and any terms and conditions that apply.