How to hire a contractor without paying a scammer
We love a good DIY project around here, but even seasoned DIYers still need to call in a professional once in a while. When this happens, you will want to hire someone who will do the job without too much trouble. Entrepreneur stories seem to fall into one of two categories: either "What a great job they did!" or "Let me tell you about the time this guy backed into my garage and got paid for it." Avoiding the second type is always the goal, and it usually just takes a little legwork on your part. Here are our top tips for hiring the best contractor for the job, every time. Get a home inspection
You don't want to be forced to choose a contractor quickly because emergency repairs are on your mind, so your best defense is to check for problems before they happen. List all the structures in your house and their age: When was your house installed? How old is your oven? What about the wiring? When was your last HVAC service? Then, have a qualified home inspector come take a look so you know which repairs to prioritize. How to find a reliable contractor
Once you've identified your home's biggest problems, the real work begins: the inspection. It will take time and effort, but it will be worth it in the end. Get word of mouth advice
Word of mouth is king, so a personal recommendation should always be your first step. Ask family members if they know a good contractor in the area. Also ask your neighbors - they probably have built a house in the same way, their age and maybe they are facing the same problem as you. Stop by local businesses and ask for recommendations. (If you need an electrician, for example, go to a local electrical shop and ask around.) Don't ask someone to avoid it - although some people may volunteer this information. - ask who they would like to work with again.
The list of tips is just the beginning. Your next step is to see if the companies you are around have filed complaints against them. The best way to do this is to search for a complaint database through your state's Department of Consumer Affairs or Consumer Protection. If you don't know where to start, this website has a list of consumer rights agencies in all 50 US states. Some local and regional retail stores will have a complaint log, but you can email or call someone in the office for help. Whatever you do, look for a contractor's better industry rating and keep doing it - while a BBB report can provide valuable information, ratings alone don't tell the whole story.
Check the license and permit requirements in your area
Before you start hiring contractors, you need to know what qualifications the contractor needs to work in your area. Here's a bit of a doozy: some US states require contractors and construction workers to be licensed by the state's building board, while others only require certification in the state for certain types of work. Some counties and even some cities have their own licensing requirements. HomeAdvisor.com has a quick and dirty guide to the practice of licensing contractors in each state, and it's a good place to start, but you may still be confused. In that case, find the contact section of your local, state or local real estate agency website and ask them questions. Keep it simple and specific; the person who manages the house committee email box probably receives the same four questions over and over again.
Call and get a quote
If you have done your research, you will now have a list of contractors who have passed the approval and verification stage. Now is the time to start calling. Don't be afraid to ask a lot of questions, a lot of problems that can blow up in your face later in the game can be avoided by asking a lot of questions early. Get proof of insurance
You cannot allow an uninsured contractor to work on your home. If they hurt themselves or run backwards into your parking lot and don't have insurance, the cost is yours. You are not happy about being firm in your request for proof of insurance. Ask how many employees they have and who will be doing the work. (Depending on the area and type of work being performed, a supervisor may be licensed, but workers may not be.) You should be able to check the contractor's insurance policy with your local licensing office. State - if you are stuck, people and plants should be able to help.
Meet entrepreneurs in person
Ask several contractors to come see the work area and what you expect. Say what you want as clearly as possible to reduce any risk of communication wasting time and money.
And it's time to do it