Here’s a few key contractor questions to ask and steps to follow before hiring a contractor of any type, including handymen:
1. Know specifically what you want to have done. Try to have plans drawn up by an Architect or Designer. The more information you have available for the contractor, the better. You should also be able to obtain a more precise quote for the work and be better able to compare at least two or three competitive quotes.
2. Try to get personal referrals, rather than relying on the phone book or internet. Ask a friend or a relative who has had some work done on their home – that’s a great starting point. You can get some honest feedback about the contractor’s skill level, price, scheduling, level of cooperation, and much more. There are a lot of contractors out there to choose from, and like most businesses, they succeed or fail mostly by their reputation so a good referral is very helpful.
Material suppliers are also great sources. Ask the people where you buy your lumber or your plumbing supplies if they know of anyone who’s particularly good at the type of project you have in mind. Retailers have a reputation to protect as well — they want to keep you happy and coming back as a customer — so they will typically refer only those contractors who they know are honest and will do a quality job.
Other good sources of referrals include real estate agents, insurance agents, property managers, your utility company, and your local building department inspector.
3. When you have a referral or two, call the contractors to set up an appointment. Ask the following four questions:
- Do they do the specific type of work you’re looking for? It could be they no longer do kitchens or room additions, or they now do remodeling and have stopped building new homes. Clarify this on the first call.
- What is their schedule like? If you have a project that has to be done within the next month and the contractor can’t even start until then, there’s no point in wasting your time or theirs.
- Can they provide you with referrals? Most companies are more than willing to provide you with names and phone numbers of past clients. If they can’t or won’t provide you with referrals, don’t hire them. Between the time you call the contractor and the time the contractor comes out, be sure to follow up on a couple of the referrals and get some feedback from the homeowners. If possible, see if the referral would allow you to view the contractor’s work in person.
- What is the contractor’s name and license number? Get the contractor’s full legal business name, address and business phone number, as well as their contractor’s license number. Follow up on this information, and verify that all of the proper bonds and insurance policies are in place (including workers compensation for their employees).
At Sano Stante Real Estate we maintain a list of qualified contractors as a service to our clients to prepare their home for sale or to upgrade a home that they have just purchased. Please call us and we can provide you with a list of these proven trades.