FTC Disclaimer: **I received the product(s) mentioned in this post for free from American Standard. These are not affiliate links, and I will notreceive compensation if you purchase from them.
And let me be REEEEEEEAL honest, I’ve hired some really horrendous contractors. I’ve fired them too.
And in all of that mess, I’ve come up with an ever changing method of hiring contractors.
While the most ideal situation is to do the work yourself and save the headache and money of contractors, that isn’t always feasible (or smart).
When safety & liability are concerned, it is always best to hire a (licensed) professional. By trying to pull a “Homeowner Special” with things like electrical, you are asking for trouble (and even a lawsuit!).
So here’s my Top 10 things to look for when hiring a contractor:
- They MUST have done work by someone that I know and trust. The weight of a good referral in any business is a huge asset. *But here’s my disclaimer for this: I’ve been screwed by relying solely on the referral of someone. Just because Sally said he did a good job should NOT be your only deciding factor!*
- How many attempts do I have to make to reach him (or her!) for the first time to schedule an estimate? We have a saying around here: If you’re hungry, you’ll work. If I’m doing more work trying to get you to work, you aren’t hungry enough for my business. If his/her communication sucks trying to get your business, it’s certainly NOT going to get better once he has your business.
- Are they licensed in their area? Are they insured? If the answer is no to either of these, SKIP them. When they aren’t licensed or insured, guess who assumes ALL of the liability if something goes wrong? YOU. **And my follow up to this, don’t just ask if they are licensed and insured, ask to have a copy of each to keep in your file. If they are reluctant to provide documentation of either, kick them to the curb…immediately!
- Have you seen work that they’ve done? It is NOT rude to ask for the names/numbers of people that he/she has worked for recently. We have even called up strangers and ask to see the work a contractor has done before hiring him. This is closely related to #1, but sometimes the work I’m hiring him for isn’t similar to the work done for my friend.
- Call the Contractor’s Licensing Board for your state BEFORE you hire him/her. Ask if his license is up to date and if any complaints have been filed against him/her. My follow up to this: If you do end up hiring a contractor and have issues with him, you can and SHOULD file a complaint with the licensing board.
- Make sure he/she is willing to reduce everything to writing. Who is purchasing the product? Who is picking up/delivering the product? All of this may seem to “just work itself out”…but let me tell you, this gray area can roar into a beast quickly that can end up in extreme frustration.
- If he requires the money up front, fire him before he even says the next word. If he requires half before he starts, fire him. This is what works for me— I’ll pay as he finishes a job. I don’t pay a dime for future work. Period. If he has a problem with that, I show him the door.
- Always inquire as to how long they’ve been working as a contractor? While everyone is new at some point, I do NOT want to be someone’s learning house. It’s just too risky, and I don’t want anyone earning their stripes on my dime. Experience is your best friend with a contractor and be willing to pay for that experience!
- This one is subjective…but do you like him? There have been some that may be highly qualified, but I hated their attitude or their pushy behavior. If I don’t like them, I’m not going to work well with them. When things are tense, it’s NOT fun. I’ve been there recently, and I can 100% assure you, it SUCKS.
- Do they share your vision? With every project, I have a vision. I want someone to see that vision and be able to accomplish it. I don’t need anyone to tell me what I “should do.” When a contractor shares my vision and they offer expertise, creativity, and skill to accomplish my vision, those contractors are priceless!
One thing to always remember, the contractor you hire should make your life easier…not more difficult. Choosing a contractor that you jive with, that you trust, and that you can afford will definitely make your life easier. But in all honesty, it’s like winning the lottery to find that winning combo!
I’d love to hear from those of you that have had good or bad experiences with contractors, what do YOU look for when hiring a contractor?