How to choose a Contractor

Choosing the Best Contractor?  Asking yourself what's the best contractor for my project?  How do I know if they are qualified?  Are they covered?  These and possibly many more could all be crossing your mind and can be exhausting.  Fortunately, we will help you with your questions as best as we can. Or you can look through our Preferred Contractor List and maybe you can find the contractor for your project.

Searching for a Contractor

           Searching for a contractor can begin with a simple Google search, Facebook or other social media, Angie's List or similar services, or even a yard sign from your neighbor that just had their landscaping done and are proudly showcasing their name on the front lawn.  There are several ways to search for contractors, we will cover the most popular along with recommendations. 

Social Media, Google, Angie's List, Home Advisor, Yelp, Thumbtack, etc.

 

      All the above-mentioned search engine or home service listing sites have contractor ratings or reviews that can easily be seen by the public.  However, one difference that could mean more to some than others is that places like

  • Google 

  • Bing

  • Facebook

  • Instagram

are free to create a profile that can be viewed relatively easy.  It's also an option to pay to promote posts to a certain demographic.  

 

Home Service Review Sites like:

  • Angie's List

  • Home Advisor

  • Houzz

  • Thumbtack

  • Yelp

and other home service business review sites offer free profiles, but it is the premium accounts(contractors pay per month/year) that get shown to the public more often than the free versions.  This shows the business is committed to their reputation and willing to pay for more publicity. 

        Facebook profiles can be made in minutes and businesses with bad reviews can rename/ re-market themselves under a new profile.  Most honest and or reputable businesses will have a mixture of profiles like social media accounts and home service review sites to allow you to make the best decision. 

       In our experience homeowners new to the Home Service Review sites are under the impression that a quote can be given to them through the websites by inputting some basic info and possibly pictures.   Some contractors may be able to but typically this is not the case.  Home serive review sites typically suggest contractors to work with for your project based on the info you input. 

         Estimates that are given without actually seeing it firsthand are risky.  Pictures are hard to judge off of, and measurements can be tricky to get accurately.  Having the contractor see the work site firsthand is a better route and leaves less room for error.

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Points to Cover

 
Insurance Agent
Workers in Building Site

Here we will cover topics to discuss with your contractors which will help you make a decision.  Things most contractors should have or required to have like:

  • Workers Comp

  • Insurance

  • Reviews

  • References- professional and past customers

  • worksite conditions & expectations

 

      Businesses with employees are required to carry workers compensation.  This insurance protects employees that are hurt on the job.  If an employee is hurt on your property and the employer does not have workers comp,  the homeowner can be left open to footing the bills for the employee hurt on their property.

      Insurances like general liability and professional liability are a must as well.  You want to make sure the contractor you choose has this insurance, otherwise when they happen to make a mistake leading to damage or destruction of property: you'll have peace of mind knowing it's covered and will be taken care of.

     Reviews are something every contractor is going to have eventually, whether they like it or not.  The modern world is becoming more dependent or accepting of online review sites and services.  It should be noted that reviews can be faked.  The reasons vary but should be considered when reading through a companies reviews.  Some common reasons are:

  • to look better- faking good reviews to help secure future work

  • to look bad- competitors, disgruntled employees can fake bad reviews in the hopes of tarnishing one's reputation  

  • Hide bad reviews- pushing them towards the bottom

 

     References are a great way to get a feel for a contractor and the crews they employ.  Asking a contractor for a couple of references to call or email about past work will make you confident in your contractor selection.  

You could ask for references 

  • during the initial contact

  • during the estimate meeting

  • after the estimate is delivered or before your final decision

      

       Worksite conditions and expectations are another point that should be discussed before work begins, ideally.  This could save you some frustration and stress during your project.  Things like:

  • bathroom usage

  • speakers and radio devices

  • smoking on the job

  • parking and equipment storage

  • material storage

  • start and end times

  • how the site is to be left overnight

should be discussed and possibly more, these are the most common points,

Making a Decision

 

Deciding which contractor to choose should be a little bit easier now.  We believe looking at contractors or businesses

  • online presence

  • reviews

  • references

should give you a good idea of the contractor you are going to be working with.  If you had a bad experience with contractors in the past, don't hire one without multiple references AND reviews.   

Younger or newer contractors may not have much of an online presence or customer base to have reviews and references a potential homeowner can use to validate their choice.  If this is the case, asking more detailed questions and being specific with your requests will likely reduce the number of bad contractors you run into.  Don't be afraid to ask how long or how experienced a contractor is with their craft.  

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Ways to be a BETTER CUSTOMER
 

We all want the best contractor or professional for our projects, but what about being a better customer for your contractor?  Here are a few simple ways to be a better customer that will go a long way:

  • Prepared- having all decision making parties available for estimate meeting speeds up the process and information isn't lost in translation

  • Ideas- having a good general idea of your project- colors, textures, pictures from social media or other sources

  • Budget- Knowing your budget or having one in mind.  If you don't have an idea, ask your contractor for a rough idea after describing your project to them- this could save you both some time

  • Polite- something as simple as polite or a polite tone can make a huge difference

Check out our project Install Guides- always adding to our list