Tips For Finding Home Improvement Contractors This Fall

Your home is your most cherished investment, and it is important that you find a great, reputable, and affordable contractor to take on the job. Whether it is home improvement, renovations, window installation, home restoration, or even just a minor roof repair, hiring an experienced professional is crucial.

It isn’t always a piece of cake to find a good quality contractor, and it may actually take some time and a bit of effort. One of the main problems with finding a good contractor is that bad contractors may sound like a good contractor at the beginning of the process, and won’t reveal their true nature until the work has already been underway for a bit of time. So, to help you determine whether or not this contractor is reputable, here are some signs that you are either dealing with a good contractor or a not so good contractor.

Unfortunately, bad contractors usually are very likeable and have great interpersonal skills. They will promise you great service and very reasonable pricing. But most of these contractors will not follow through on these promises and may not be around to complete the job from start to finish. Here are some tell tale signs that you’re more than likely dealing with a bad contractor:

First, they usually won’t write things down or they won’t want to maintain a written contract. They may state things like “Oh, we don’t need a contract” or “It isn’t necessary, we have a mutual understanding”. They may also try to convince you that using non-standard materials is the way to go, or to not build to industry standards. This could include a statement such as “We don’t need a permit; this is the city’s way of trying to take your money”. If you constantly need to supervise them to make sure that they’re doing their job and using the specified materials, then you’re probably dealing with a bad contractor. If they threaten to walk away from the project if you’re watching them too closely, then that is not a good sign. They may also look for payment upfront or at least a large sum of the funds soon after they start the project. A bad contractor may also tell you that they made a mistake with the estimate and that they need more funds to complete the services. Also, if they rarely show up at the job site and don’t supervise their subcontractors or technicians, they probably are not the contractor you want to choose. These types of contractors will usually move onto the next part of the job before adequately finishing the first part.

Now as for a good quality contractor, they will display a much different set of positive characteristics. Here are some signs that you’ve hired the right contractor:

One of the most important things that they will do is show you the proof of the companies insurance, their license through the state, and they will also provide references to the quality of their work. They will want to provide you with a clear, written contract that distinctly outlines their responsibilities, as well as the homeowners. They will understand that permits and building inspections are completely necessary to verify that the services they’ve provided you with meets industry standards as well as local building codes and ordinances. Also, these contractors won’t expect you to pay for a job upfront and will only require a small deposit to begin the work. A good contractor will use quality material that was stated clearly in the contract, and they won’t try to substitute lower quality materials. They will show up at the job site often, and will coordinate with their workers and subcontractors. A tell tale sign that you’ve chosen the right contractor is that they also treat your home with the utmost respect, and treat it as if it was their own. They will welcome questions with a smile and answer them honestly and thoroughly. And lastly, they will finish the job on time or close to the time frame that they aimed for in the contract. Usually, good contractors are very busy.

Also, here are a couple of tips to help you narrow down the process when looking for a good contractor:

Obtain Referrals

There are a couple of ways to find good contractors. The best and most efficient way is to seek recommendations from family and friends, and also social networking sites. Consumer reviews websites such as Angies List are also good, and checking with the Better Business Bureau is also a good idea.

Interview Candidates

With a list in hand, make some calls to get a sense of how comfortable you’ll be with this contractor working in or on your home. For example, how long have you been in business? Does your company carry workers compensation and liability insurance? Who will be assigned as project manager, and will the workers be employees or subs? Do you belong to any professional associations? is a good source to pull from when looking for questions to ask.

Avoid Red Flags

Red flags could be any of the above signs that have been mentioned when pertaining to a less than desirable contractor. A few other red flags could be that they want to be paid in cash only, or that they are in the area and want to give you a discount. Also, if they don’t have a physical business address, that’s probably not a good sign.

Narrow Down the Field

After making calls and interviewing potential contractors, knock the choices down to about three. Double check the references and make sure previous projects were done in a timely manner, and that the quality was satisfactory or above. After you have done this, set up a face to face meeting with those who pass your initial screening. Have them discuss the job with you and provide you with a written estimate.

Finalize the Deal

Get a formal contract in writing in case something goes wrong. This prevents any company or subcontractor placing a lien on your home for unpaid bills for materials. Also, ask for a certificate of insurance which proves that the contractor has liability and workers compensation insurance in case of an accident. This contract should also include a beginning date, completion date, and how payments will be processed.

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