Finding a reliable contractor is not complicated but the process may take some time. If you’ve had work done before ask yourself, “What did I like or not like about the work I had done?” and “What would I go back and change if I could?”
Asking friends and neighbors for a referral can work well especially if the source of your referral did tons of legwork before hiring. Every neighborhood has one of these folks who checks the Dept. of Consumer Protection (each state has one) to verify the contractor is registered and to check for possible complaints. They might also check with the Better Business Bureau and be savvy enough to request a certificate of insurance from the contractor made out in their name. If they asked for and called several of the contractor’s references to inquire how those other projects went, then that, my friend, is a fantastic referral source. If your source didn’t do these things, you really should in order to make the best possible decision.
Are you looking for a quick, inexpensive fix in order to sell your home or will you stay in this home long enough to appreciate good quality work? Referrals from someone who had work done months or even years ago and who still likes his or her contractor should carry more weight in your decision if long-term quality & value are more important than a cheap price.
I’ll let you in on a little secret. There are lots of ways to patch things up and make them look good for a short time. This allows the less experienced, “cheap” contractor to charge less. Inferior materials or workmanship can sometimes pass the inspection of a home buyer, real estate agent or home inspector. Caulk, paint & duct tape have fooled folks for years.
Legitimate contractors will provide:
* An estimate before beginning work
* A detailed contract for jobs over 2 or 3 hours
* Notice of Cancellation listing your rights as a consumer
* A certificate of insurance made out in your name (more on this later) showing liability, workers’ compensation and auto insurance.
Even under the best circumstances, inviting someone into your home or business to repair or remodel involves some degree of inconvenience and dirt. The best contractors communicate well with you, work hard to stay on schedule, respect your home, time & family and clean up after themselves all while providing good quality work. Don’t settle for less. You deserve a great contractor!
Elizabeth Saede may be reached at Mystic Restoration Co. www.MysticRest.com