Choosing the right contractor for home improvement projects is not a decision that should be taken lightly. Many homeowners have heard horror stories about less than scrupulous companies or individuals doing sub-standard work, leaving jobs unfinished, overcharging, or simply taking payments and then never being heard from again. While the vast majority of professional contractors are honest, it’s important to do you due diligence before inviting someone into your home.
Here are five important qualities that will ensure that you’re hiring a trustworthy contractor.
A Great Reputation
Any contractor worth his salt will be more than willing to provide references, and you should be diligent in checking them, but don’t let them be your only source of information. Ask for examples of past work, specifically similar projects to the one you’re seeking assistance with. You can also check online reviews and with the Better Business Bureau to get a sense for what prior clients have experienced. Some states even maintain a database of contractor complaints. You can check if your state has a registry of such data by visiting www.usa.gov/directory/stateconsumer/index.
Experience Doing The Type of Work You Need
There really is no substitute for experience, so it’s important to verify that any potential contractor has completed past jobs similar to yours. Just because someone has spent the last fifteen years installing drywall doesn’t mean they are qualified to do plumbing or electrical work. If you’re remodeling a bathroom, ask to see pictures of previous bathroom installations or discuss the steps they’ve taken in the past to complete such a project.
Willing To Listen To You
Communication is key with any home improvement project, and the best contractors will not only want your input, but will encourage you to clearly explain what it is you want done to your home. A contractor and his crew should be willing to listen to your vision of the project and turn that vision into a reality. When checking references, ask how easy the individual or company was to reach during the project and whether or not they ever went MIA from a project for any length of time.
Bonded, Licensed and Insured
Part of achieving peace of mind when hiring someone to work on your home is knowing that you’re in good hands no matter what surprises may crop up. You’ll first want to check if your contractor is licensed to do the work that you’re hiring them for. This ensures that they are fully capable of completing the tasks you assign them. Secondly, hiring a bonded contractor means that you won’t be liable for expenses if the work goes unfinished or is poorly done. Lastly, insurance provides protection from any liability claims that result from your project. Bonded, licensed and insured contractors will be able to provide documentation attesting to their standing in each of these areas.
Up-front About Costs
The “contract” part of “contractor” is obviously a vital component, and a trustworthy contractor will be happy to draw out the details of the job and list out pricing information up front. Of course there will often be factors that can affect the final price, but those variables should also be outlined and clearly understood by both parties before a final decision is made. Be wary of anyone who is not willing to put their billing structure on paper, or is eager to quote you a price before laying eyes on the job site. Every job is different and will require its own unique construction plan, so a reliable contractor will want to see where they’ll be working before estimating their costs.
About the Author:
Opal Enterprises has been assisting Chicagoland homeowners with exterior remodeling projects for over 10 years. Energy efficiency is always their goal when installing windows, doors, siding, gutters and roofing.