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How to Find a Good Home Contractor

Aug 18, 2007
Have you ever had a bad experience with a contractor (ex. painter, roofer, plumber, landscaper, carpenter etc.)? Did problems such as these occur: contractor showing up late or not at all; poor workmanship and work ethics; missed deadlines? Have you landed in court because of a bad contractor?

I can relate. Although finding a reliable and punctual contractor who takes pride in his or her work often seems impossible, contractors possessing these characteristics do exist. The key is knowing how and where to find them.

Here are a few easy ways (outside of using the yellow pages) to find contractors who will make you want to smile at the completion of the job, instead of cry:

Ask family members, friends and associates for referrals of contractors who have worked for them. People close to you are usually more than happy to give you the name of someone who did excellent work for them.

Visit your local home improvement center. Employees and customer service representatives (Csrs) may be able to refer quality contractors to you. Contractors patronize these centers regularly and sometimes leave business cards with the CSRs.

Attend local home and garden shows. These shows are packed with home improvement professionals who are eager to explain and demonstrate the type of services they provide. Visit the various vendor tables/booths. Retrieve information provided by the professionals and use this opportunity to ask any questions you may have concerning your next project and your search for a contractor.

If your city or town has a real estate association, attend one of the regular meetings. The real estate investors, agents, brokers and others who attend the meetings can refer you to quality contractors. Some contractors are members of real estate associations.

Remember, before hiring any contractor, do the following:

Contact the Better Business Bureau to find out if the contractor is a member of the bureau. If so, obtain a copy of the bureaus report. The report contains general information about the contractor and will inform you whether or not the contractor has a satisfactory record with the bureau. The report also contains information such as the number of complaints, if any, the contractor received within a determined period of time (usually 36 months).

Ask the contractor to provide references and pictures if applicable of his or her completed work from previous jobs.

Make sure the contractor is fully licensed and insured.

Try to obtain a minimum of 3 price quotes for the job to be performed.

After you have selected a contractor for your project, be sure to put everything in writing! This can save you down the road in the event that something becomes a disputable issue in court. Your contract should include a detailed description of the work to be performed; materials that will be used; timeframes (dates) for the progression and completion of the project; a cost breakdown for the project and payment information. Penalty clauses should also be included for any breach of the contract by either party. The contract should be signed and dated.

By looking for contractors in the right places and doing a little research prior to hiring a contractor, you will greatly increase your chances of having a satisfying and relatively trouble free experience that will be a win/win for you and the contractor.
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