Guide to Hiring a Contractor (Part 1) | Finding a Contractor

Need to hire a contractor? While most will do a good job, their prices can vary dramatically and there are some that will rip you off if they think they can get away with it. Here are some tips to try to make sure you end up getting value for your hard-earned money when hiring a general/building contractor and get a job well done at the end of the day.

Most people would agree that the best form of advertising is a personal recommendation, which is great if you already know someone who has had building, construction or remodeling work done on their property similar to what you’re planning. However, that’s rarely the case, so you’re left with the task of finding a good general/building contractor on your own.

Getting started

1. A good place to start is the National Association of Home Builders website where with a few clicks you can easily find directories of local contractors and builders in your area and their contact information. Some retail suppliers of kitchen and bathroom fixtures for remodeling often try to hook you up with their preferred contractors, and while there may be nothing wrong with the contractors they suggest, don’t feel obliged to use them simply because the retailer suggests it. Just like when buying anything, it pays to shop around when hiring a contractor.

2. The Better Business Bureau as well as your local agency for dealing with consumer affairs are also both good sources of information for checking on whether a local contractor you are considering hiring has any history of complaints against them. Depending on the work you are planning to have done it’s also smart to make sure that the contractor is registered and licensed for such work, especially with gas or electricity installations for example, and carries the necessary insurance coverage. While it’s no cast iron guarantee, if the contractor is licensed and registered, it at least show transparency on their part and if there is a serious problem down the line then a government agency will able to pursue the matter legally on your behalf.

3. A licensed contractor will have to have demonstrated competency in the field of work which the license covers. Being registered normally only involves paying a fee and does not involve any evaluation of professional competency.  Being licensed, and better still, a member of their trade association(s) and approved contractors shows that they take what they do seriously and demonstrates a certain professional attitude, which is better than a contractor who is in it to simply make a fast buck or two with no long-term commitment.

4. General / building contractors who are well established and good at what they do shouldn’t have any problems providing you with a couple of references for similar jobs or projects they have done recently where the clients were satisfied or very happy with the work they carried out. Take the time to contact these people and get their opinion of the contractor and an idea of the quality of work done by the contractor and construction or remodeling costs.

5. Make sure the contractor has the necessary insurance and make a point of checking up on your own homeowner’s insurance so you know exactly what coverage you have just in case of any unforeseen accidents. You don’t want to end up footing any hefty insurance claims if there is any accidental damage to a neighbor’s home or someone has an accident as a result of construction work on your property because the contractor doesn’t have adequate insurance cover for such events.

Guide to Hiring a Contractor (Part 2) | Estimates & Costs