Thinking about updating your contemporary kitchen to something more modern? Or maybe you want to give the master bathroom that Jacuzzi tub and steam shower you’ve been dreaming of? Whatever the home renovation, you’ll want to find the right contractor—someone you can trust to do a great job for a fair price.
Check On-Line Customer Reviews
While you may hear of a good contractor through word of mouth, online customer reviews are also a good place to check. Sites like the BBB and Angies List are a great place to start.
On its website, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) has compiled more than 100,000 reviews of general home contractors, many of which are accredited by the BBB—meaning they exhibit a good-faith effort to resolve consumer complaints.
Angies List is good because they do not allow anonymous reviews, adding to the accuracy of reviews.
With a large number of scam artists posing as contractors, homeowners should be suspicious if a contractor does any of the following:
- Pressures you for a quick hiring decision
- Accepts only cash (usually an indication he’s trying to skirt paying taxes)
- Wants to skip the building permit (any major home-improvement project legally requires one)
- Solicits door to door (a few reliable contractors do, but be wary if they’re not local)
- Tries to cut you a deal using materials left over from another project
- Quotes a final price without seeing the job
After narrowing your list, put your research to use. Call up former clients to find how their project went and ask to see the finished product. But you shouldn’t rely on results alone. Even more important, visit a current job site and see for yourself how the contractor works. Is the job site neat and safe? Are workers courteous and careful with the homeowner’s property?
Don’t Let Price Be Your Guide
Throw out the lowball bid. This contractor is probably cutting corners or, worse, desperate for work—hardly an encouraging sign in a healthy economy. Beyond technical competence, comfort should play an equal or greater role in your decision. The single most important factor in choosing a contractor is how well you and he communicate. All things being equal, it’s better to spend more and get someone you’re comfortable with.