How Do You Choose a Contractor

How do you choose a contractor?

It amazes me still to this day how many shoddy contractors are in business. Even more amazing is how many home and business owners try and cut corners to save a buck on one of, if not the greatest investments they will have in there lifetime. Once again today we were called out to clean up a mess by a so called competitor on an estimate that we were almost twice as high on. When we dug down we found out it was not a properly insured contractor, it was a brother in law of a friend that was moonlighting to make extra money. I will save the ” you get what you pay for speech” for another time.

So begs the question ” How do you choose the right contractor”? It is very simple folks just do the following;

1. Ask for insurance right up front. If they don’t have it or can’t provide it then don’t use them.

2. Ask for references and check them. Most consumers that have a good experience with a contractor of any kind will be glad to give a reference at least once or twice to show there appreciation for a job well done. If they can’t provide that don’t use them.

3. Check the BBB in your area. It is one of the first things that a contractor does when they go in business. If they aren’t there find out why. Even if they aren’t a member if there was bad news about them there is a chance that it would reflect in the BBB as a Non Accredited member.

4. What trade organizations or associations are they a member of such as Remodeling or Roofing Associations, Chamber of Commerce etc.?

5. Are they licensed? In Texas there is no license of any kind for a General Contractor or a Roofing Contractor but there is in Oklahoma. In Texas a plumber or electrician or HVAC person has to be licensed.

6. What evidence material do they have with them on the appointment? Most certainly they should have a presentation folder with them or a portfolio of evidence showing the work that they have done. One would think that they would offer that and be proud of it.

7. Review their website. No website or a very minimal website is a red flag. In the information world that we live in today a decent website is almost a prerequisite for going into business just as the BBB is.

8. Angie’s List, Yelp and Google comments are all a great place to look for information on a company.

9. Ask them who pulls and pays for the permits and if they will be required for the work that you want done.

10. Find out what there workload or backlog is. If they have little to no workload that may be a tell tale sign depending on the time of year and how seasonal the work you are wanting done is. If they have a significant backlog is it due to poor scheduling or is it because they are that good. References of current jobs in progress will probably be a good indicator of this.

11. Find out how long it will take to complete the job and how many workers it will take.

12. Who will be supervising the job and how often he will be there.

13. If it is insurance related work how well do they interface with that process and what qualifications do they have to accommodate the situation? Are they licensed adjusters? Do they have the appropriate software? Are they experienced at going through this process? If there is a mortgage on the property that has an insurance claim attached to it, do they know how to navigate this process or do you have to do it?

14. If they are significantly higher or lower than the competition find out why. People may in fact have a legitimate reason for both but keep a healthy skepticism of an extremely low estimate. They may be cutting corners or just low balling you to make sure that they get the job and then find reasons to increase the price. Get all estimates in writing and check for contingency clauses in the contract. A contingency clause is there to protect the contractor in situations where they are estimating or bidding a job that has a lot of unforeseen portions to it. It also usually has a ceiling on it to protect the customer to some degree as well. Just be aware of it and find out how that will be handled.

15. MONEY! This is always a difficult issue from both perspectives.  The customer doesn’t want to be taken advantage and the contractor doesn’t either. You have a sixth sense and good judgment or you wouldn’t be able to have the work done that your looking at so use it. Never give more money upfront than you are comfortable with and always leave yourself in a position of leverage. Never pay in full until you are 100% satisfied with ALL the work.

If you are looking for high quality work at reasonable prices by a top notch contractor give us a call at Level 1 General Construction and Remodeling!