Choosing a contractor

This is a difficult decision. We have all seen Mike Holmes comes to the rescue of a family who chose a poorly skilled or shady contractor and now has some huge issues. The issue is that people fall victim to scams and poorly or incomplete projects all the time. And guess what, Mike Holmes’s show is cancelled so he won’t be showing up to your doorstep to save the day. Lucky for you, we’ve done some research and with the help of our partners have determined some key things to keep in mind when looking for a contractor.

1) Use references

A reliable and simple way to find a contractor is through word of mouth. Ask your friends, family and co-workers about recent work they’ve had done to their homes. Were they satisfied? Did it come in at budget? Was the work done on time? How professional were the workers? Ideally, you are able to find someone who has recently had similar remodeling done and they are happy about the contractor. However more often than not, you have to look elsewhere. Other great resources include your own insurance company and sometime even your local trade school. Nearly all insurance companies have long term agreements set out with specific contractors based on their reputation. Although, you may be on the phone for a long time, the wait will most likely be well worth it. Another option is to contact your local college. Many of the construction programs offered at colleges throughout the country rely upon the advice of experts, to offer partnerships with their graduates to provide mentorship.

2) Get multiple quotes

Always be sure to get multiple quotes IN WRITING. The contractors that provide you with estimates should be knowledgeable and should be offering a reasonable price. Make sure you prepare a couple questions beforehand to test the contractor, however, a contractor who answers professionally may still not be great. Another thing to check is the pricing they offer. The common saying is that if something seems too good to be true, then it most likely is. As a result, ensure that the pricing estimates they provide are in line with your expectations. You have to be able to trust this person because they will be in your home alone for hours. Having consistent discussions will help build your trust, or help you determine if this contractor is not be the one.

3) Check out their BBB profile

Just like any other service you are getting done, make sure to visit BBB for more information about potential contractors. This is one of the greatest and easiest resources to use in the industry. Best of all, at first glance, it will be extremely clear whether your contractor is a reputable professional or not. We typically recommend that your contractor have a score of at least A- before you hire them for anything. Most importantly, verify their history to ensure that they don’t have any previous history with customers or any of their subcontractors. This is a huge negative and you should be wary of a largely negative history.

4) Never pay upfront

Be weary of any contractor that requires that full payment be made at the beginning of the project. Although, it is extremely common and quite understandable that they will ask for some money to purchase the initial materials needed anymore should be a red flag. Make sure that the contractor is able to justify their initial expenses prior to given them a cheque. Throughout the duration of the renovation, you should ask for invoices record the expenses they claim, and to verify that they are budgeting your money correctly.

5) Ask for their credentials

A certified contractor will be happy to provide you with proof of their credentials. This could include their professional trade certificate or their business number (which can be referenced with an online search in most cases) to verify that they are legally operating and therefore accountable. Followed by checking their insurance coverage to ensure that they are at least somewhat professional. Any contractor who gives you an excuse to not verify this information should automatically be removed from your list of potential contractors. Most importantly, make sure to trust your gut. If something seems off with regards to the proof they are providing, move on. There are many licensed contractors who are knowledgeable, extremely professional and won’t mind providing you with this information.

Trust me, it’ll save you time, money and loads of stress in the long run.