One of the crucial elements when constructing an addition, a remodeling project, or making repairs to your home, is how to choose a contractor who is qualified and competent. Thousands of homeowners are scammed annually through illegitimate contractors. As a homeowner, there are a number of ways you can protect yourself and ensure that you hire a contractor who will provide quality work that is safe and affordable.

Use our free online contractor referral service by clicking here.

The first consideration, especially if you are making repairs that have resulted from a flood, fire or other natural disaster is: Never hire someone that calls or comes to your door selling their services. Qualified, licensed contractors will not go door to door selling their services. The person who does show up at your door will likely perform substandard work, if they actually do any work at all.

To choose a contractor, first consider what it is that you would like to have done. Jot down your ideas on a piece of paper so that you begin to visualize the project. Outline the project, try to describe the look you are after and set budget limits.

Next, obtain estimates which you can compare. You should obtain three to five estimates from qualified licensed contractors who perform the type of work you are considering. The contractors should come to your home and consult with you regarding the project. Ask each contractor to provide you with a written estimate of the cost, with as much detail as possible.

How do you decide which contractors to contact for estimates? There are various options available:

    • Ask family, friends and neighbors who have had similar work completed.  Ask about the contractor they used and if they were happy with the process and the end result.
    • Contact the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and ask them to suggest a local, qualified and licensed contractor.
    • Contact your homeowner’s insurance agent and ask if they have any recommendations.
    • Use the contractor referral services on this website. The contractors in the database are pre-screened and certified.  Click here to start your search.
    • And, lastly, open up the Yellow Pages and check out the ads.

      Make a list of potential contractors, then contact each one. Confirm that the contractor provides free estimates and that they do perform the type of work that you need to have done. Also, confirm that the contractor is insured and licensed. If they say they are not, do not go any further and continue to the next contractor on your list. Take notes as you speak with each contractor, recording importation information. Be sure to schedule no less than three interviews to receive estimates.

      Be ready to fully explain the remodel, addition or repair that you have in mind. Discuss the best options available. Take notes during the discussion. During this initial meeting, ask the contractor for a written estimate. Also, ask the contractor to include all guarantees and to detail specific types of materials which he or she would recommend for the construction. Finally, ask the contractor to provide you with current references of previous clients, their proof of insurance, and their contractor’s license.

      Once the contractor has left, contact the references to discuss the quality of the work and the satisfaction of the client. Go to the locations listed if possible and view the work in person.

      Questions to ask the contractor’s references include:

      • Was communication open and easy?
      • Were you satisfied with the quality of work?
      • Was the timeliness of the project satisfactory?
      • Were problems, complaints or questions resolved in a convenient manner?
      • Were crew members competent, respectful, neat and polite?
      • Would you hire the contractor again?

      Compare your estimates carefully. This means look not only at the cost estimate, but at details such as the quality of the work and the materials listed, as well as the time required to complete the project. Rank the estimates according to how well they meet your requirements.

      Now it will be time to do your research on the contractor and the information which he or she provided you. Contact the BBB to ensure that there are no complaints from unsatisfied clients. Contact the state licensing board to ensure that the contractor’s license is valid and has never been revoked for any reason. Contact the contractor’s insurance company to confirm that his or her insurance policy is valid. Lastly, go with your gut. If there is something questionable regarding the contractor don’t hire them.

      Consider all the information which you have been presented and make your final evaluation. You will find that reputable contractors will have bids that are close in price. If some estimates are much more costly than others, you might want to consider why.

      Once you have made your final selection, contact the contractor that you selected and ask for a formal written contract that details the guarantees, work and materials that will be performed. Determine when you will begin the job and when you can expect completion, which should also be listed in the contract.  Don’t forget to contact the contractors that you did not go with to inform them that you have selected someone else.

      We offer a Contractor Selection Workbook: A step-by-step guide so you can select the right contractor to help you in keeping track of the details of this process.  Click here to take a look at this workbook, along with several others that detail the remodeling process.