Before tackling their next home improvement project, homeowners need to do their homework to find a good contractor to complete the work. Knowing what to look for will give homeowners a way to find a contractor they can feel comfortable hiring for years to come.
Finding Local Contractors
There are several places homeowners can look when compiling a list of potential contractors. One of the very best places to start is with their friends and family. By asking for recommendations and referrals, homeowners can be sure they will have at least a few names on their list before making those first calls.
Generally, past customers of any contractor are more than willing to share their experiences. In fact, homeowners are more likely to share bad customer service experiences than they do the good ones. Asking friends, neighbors and family members to share their experiences should result in several contractors to check with.
If the homeowners have hired an architect or interior designer for the design of their remodeling project, these professionals will usually have a list of reputable contractors in their area. Asking them for a recommendation is a great way to narrow the list of contractors to the very best. Designers and architects will not generally recommend someone they have not worked with personally and with good results.
Another place to look is the internet. Using a search engine to find contractors in the local area will allow the homeowners to find those contractors with websites. A nicely designed website is generally a sign of a solid business. Although this is not always the case, those contractors who have been in business for awhile, and are serious about growing their companies, will offer an online portfolio of past projects, client testimonials and more.
The local phone book can also be helpful in locating general contractors. Although not all contactors will have a listing in the phone book, many of them buy ads to attract new customers.
How to Determine the Reliability of a Contractor
Although it is nearly impossible to be 100% sure about any contractor hired for a project, homeowners can take several steps to make sure their contractor will do the best job at the best price. The most important step homeowners can take is checking the licensure of the contractors they are considering.
Often, contractors will list their state license numbers on their websites, business cards, ads and signage. Homeowners should check with their state licensing board to determine whether the contractor is properly licensed, and if those licenses are up to date. An unlicensed contractor is a sure sign of trouble, and a homeowner should never hire a contractor who does not carry the proper license.
The Better Business Bureau is another place to check on a local contractor. Their website offers a way to check on any business, and to determine if other customers have had any difficulties working with them in the past. Finding that a contractor has a history of unfinished work, not paying their subcontractors or unhappy customers is a good reason to move on to the next name on the list.
Reliable contractors will have a list of past customers ready as professional references. Homeowners need to ask any potential contractor for a list of his or her references, and then contact them to ask about their experiences. If a contractor is not willing to offer a list of references, homeowners should be wary of hiring him.
Meeting with potential contractors is a sure way to determine the comfort level a homeowner has with him or her. A contractor will be in their home for an extended period of time, and it is very important for the homeowners to be at ease with him. Any feelings of uneasiness should not be disregarded; often their gut instincts prove to be correct.
When meeting with contractors, homeowners should not be shy about asking them about their contracts, bidding process, pricing structure and other business details. These details are very important, as homeowners need to be aware of their own liabilities and responsibilities.
As a part of this process, homeowners should also ask about the contractors’ insurance policy. All contractors should be insured against liability and damage that could occur to a customer’s home and property, as well as injuries that could occur on the job site. Uninsured contractors should not be hired under any circumstance, as the homeowners could be held liable for any damage or injuries that occur on their property.
Although no process is foolproof, homeowners need to be diligent and aware when finding a contractor to hire for their home improvement projects. There are some great contractors out there, as well as poor ones. Using these tips should help them find the very best contractor to hire. To find out of a local contractor is licensed in their state, homeowners can search the Contractor’s License Reference Site.
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