How to Find a Good Contractor & Save Money
If you’re like me, your home is your baby. You wouldn’t hire the first babysitter that you found in an ad without first asking some questions and doing a little research, would you? So why do the same with your home?
When you hire out a contractor to do work on your home, you want things done right and at a reasonable price. Over the years, I’ve seen a number of people get screwed by hiring a ‘jack of all trades handyman’ who said they could just about everything. In reality, they could do a lot…. of destruction, that is (oh snap)!
No, really folks – to protect yourself from getting ripped off by a contractor, make sure you take these steps:
1. Verify the Contractor’s Insurance
A contractor’s workers compensation insurance protects you if a worker is injured on your property. Liability Insurance protects you if any of your property is damaged. Call the insurance company to ensure that the contractor’s insurance it is up to date. You can also request to have your name on the insurance certificate. By having your name on the certificate, you will be notified if the contractor cancels the policy during your project.
2. Verify the Contractor’s License
Every state should have a licensing database. If a license is applicable for your project, the state may help protect you in case of faulty workmanship. If a permit is needed, ensure that the contractor gets it. To verify licenses in your state, try Googling “(your state.gov) licensing and registration”. If you hire a contractor without insurance or a license, you’re playing with fire.
3. Get at Least 3 Quotes from Contractor’s
Whatever you do, don’t just rely on first Google result or the first ad in the Yellow Pages. I always get estimates from at least three contractors for every job that I’ve done. You’ll be amazed at the price differences between them. Don’t always go with the cheapest quote, just because it’s the cheapest. Reputation should carry a lot of weight, especially if it is a difficult project.
In order to help you compare, I usually ask the contractor to break the total price down by line item. It helps you make sure that the contractor knows exactly what you’re looking for and it helps you compare them against each other. If one contractor is vastly overpriced on a particular part versus the others, it can help you keep them honest and weed out the ones trying to rip you off.
4. Get Estimates & Warranties in Writing
Get all warranties and estimates in writing. Again, it’s very important for both you and the contractor to avoid any confusion over exactly what you want done. Also, you want to make sure that there are no hidden charges or fees. EVERYTHING that the contractor is charging you for should be in writing. You also want to know what is included in the warranty, how long the warranty is good for, and what form of payment the contractor will accept.
5. Check their References
Before you even start your search, it’s good to ask for referrals. However, the key here is to not feel obligated to use someone that your peer recommends just because they recommended them (this particularly holds true with their friends and family).
You should also talk with previous customers and ask them if they would use this contractor again, did they honor their warranty, did they get the job done on time, and would they highly recommend them. Also ask if there was anything they didn’t like about the contractor.
If you just follow these five simple steps, you’ll be a lot better off than most people hiring a contractor. And you’ll save money on the cost of the job now and in the future.
- What rules do you follow when hiring a contractor?
- Do you have any contractor horror stories that you have learned from?
- Where have you been able to find the best contractors?