Tips For Finding A Reputable Contractor
1. Consult a few different resources
The best (and easiest) place to start your search is with an objective third party that rates home service providers or with an industry-specific certifying organization, such as NADCA, that provides homeowners with tools and information to make educated decisions when hiring an air duct cleaning professional through their Breathing Clean initiative. They also make it easy for homeowners to find a NADCA-certified member in their area with their Find a Professional feature on the NADCA site.
If you live outside of the areas served by Best Pick Reports or a similar organization, ask your friends, family members, and neighbors about positive experiences they’ve had with local contractors.
2. Interview several companies
Even if you’re wildly impressed by the first company you talk to, keep your appointments with the other contractors on your list. You’ll need more than one or two bids to make a fair comparison.
3. Double-check insurance coverage, state-required licenses, and certifications
Reputable third-party organizations that recommend contractors should independently verify a company’s general liability insurance coverage; however, these policies do expire.
General liability insurance is important because it means that the contractor is financially protected if anything goes wrong while his or her company is working on your property. Without general liability insurance, any accidents will be your responsibility. Active state-required licenses are also a must. If an unlicensed contractor performs major work on your home—an electrical panel replacement or whole-house re-piping, for example—that work will not be considered as meeting code by state inspectors.
You could be forced to have the work redone, and you will likely run into major headaches if you decide to sell your house. If the work fails and results in you filing a claim with your homeowners’ insurance provider, your insurance company could deny the claim and cancel your policy.
Always do your due diligence by requesting proof of active insurance coverage, licensure, and certification. Reputable contractors will be happy to provide you with this information; move on from any contractor who balks at this request.
4. Ask for a list of references
Good contractors will have a list of clients that you can contact for more information about how the firm works. Some companies will volunteer this list, but don’t hesitate to request it if one isn’t included in your bid package.
Call a few people included on the list and ask them about their experience. Here are a few useful questions to get the conversation started:
- Are you happy with the work the company performed?
- Did the job follow the expected timeline?
- Did you have any issues with the company? If so, how were those issues resolved?
- Was communication with the company easy and straightforward?
5. Read reviews
Search for reviews of the company online, but read them with a skeptical eye. Pay attention to the reviewer’s name, the date the review was written, and whether the company posted a response. Companies should respond to reviews of their business, even if the feedback is negative. Take the company’s responses into account, too—snide or aggressive responses are a red flag, as is a complete lack of responses.