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a home addition under construction

There are different methods of selecting a contractor. Some of them are

  • random selection from the yellow pages
  • Internet search (including listings on services like Craig's list)
  • ask your friends, neighbors and colleagues
  • ask other contractors

A good contractor will generally

  • give a quote or firm estimate before starting work
  • be able to supply references
  • be able to explain the services and options
  • ...

Ask other contractorsEdit

While you can get some good suggestions from friends, neighbors or colleagues, most of them will have limited experience in selecting contractors. Of course, there are exceptions, for instance, if you have a relative in the trade or with a related skill set, that relative can tell you what to look for, even if he or she is not in your area. And if you're luck enough to be in a related business or know people who are, both the knowledge about the kind of work and the reputation of local contractors will be helpful. But if you don't have these sources, one way to find good contractors is to ask others -- even if they may work in different jobs. A plumber may not be able to help with your electrical repairs, but he or she has probably encounter many more electricians than your or your neighbors (again, this will be different, if you are in some industries). And that plumber will generally have an idea of how satisfied that person's other customers were. Of course for this technique to work, you need to select contractors whose opinion you respect and trust.

Warning signsEdit

There are exceptions to every rule, but there are some things that may be signs of a poor contractor or one you may not wish to hire.

Large or frequent ads

Someone who is new to the area or increasing the size of their business may need or want many ads. And some companies sponsor charities or community activities (such as little league baseball teams or local theaters and arts) who reward them by putting their logos or ads on flyers. So, these ads can be a sign of good community spirit or kindness. However, other contractors rely on lots of first-time business. They put out lots of ads to get customers, but don't worry about the quality of their work, word of mouth or repeat business.

Full or significant payment in advance

Many contractors will ask for a downpayment or to be paid at intervals as they complete the work. This allows them to pay for materials and on bigger projects to pay their workers as they go along. However, if a contractor requires full or most of the payment before the work is done, this can be an indication of a poorly run business and in the case of an unethical contractor, it reduces the incentive to complete the work in a timely manner or to the level that will meet your desires or any locally required code inspections.


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