Who do you trust?- Secrets to finding the best contractors

Hiring people to work on your house is never an easy task (unless, they are a family member- then you lucked out!).

There are always concerns about their quality of work, their fees and their reliability. I have worked with many contractors over the years and I have a few secrets I’d like to share when it comes to working with them.

There are two questions I want to tackle that are at the heart of this issue:

Where do you find them? and how do you know if they’re good?

First, where do you find good contractors?

I trust word of mouth as the best way to find someone. Sometimes the best tradesmen don’t advertise because they have built up such a strong local clientele that they don’t need to.

Here are three places to look:

1. Ask your friends. They are the people you would trust to give you a great recipe, fashion advice and relationship help, so why not ask about their resources?

If they haven’t worked with anyone you’re looking for (like a window washer), see if they know anyone who has. Sometimes, their parents or another friend of theirs can be great resources for contractors too.

(If you just moved somewhere or are moving somewhere and you don't have any friends that you can ask, either wait till you make friends and then ask or you can always post the question on Facebook to see if anyone might have a connection for you.)

2. Local Suppliers. Depending on where you are purchasing something (like a light fixture or tile), the supplier might have the name of someone they like a lot.

When you are buying the item online, that can be harder, but you can always go into a local shop that carry those items too and ask who they would recommend.

3. Third Party Websites. What about Angie’s List, Facebook Groups or other websites with lots of contacts...I think that they can definitely be helpful. But I know that despite being “vetted” that you don’t always know what you are getting.

Which leads to the next (and most important question):

How can you trust them?!

3 Trust Factors:

1. Ask them for referrals. If they are really good, they will have past clients who will sing their praises. If they can’t come up with any, then maybe they aren’t organized enough to keep track of their past customers, or they don’t care if they have returning customers so they don't really care what their clients think.

Both excuses should be reason to hesitate. 

2.Get a few different bids. However, this should just be for you to get an idea (because it’s hard to know how much your dining room wallpaper install would cost if you’ve never gotten it done!).

Sometimes the cheapest guy is the cheapest for a reason...he cuts corners and isn’t thorough. He could just be good and just cheap, too, but you don’t always know.

And sometimes the most expensive guy just doesn’t want to do the job so he makes himself super expensive because he wants to price himself out of the work (yes, this actually happens!).

However, he could be the most expensive because he has been doing drywall for decades and he is just REALLY good….

I can’t tell you to always go with either end of the spectrum. I can only tell you that price isn’t everything.

3. Are they a insured? Are they bonded? That only means that if something happens to them (like they suddenly have a heart attack and die---yes this has happened to me) that their insurance will pay for you to have the work completed.

It also means that if they break a window or if they don’t pay for the materials like they were supposed to, then their insurance will cover it. Here is a great article that explains this further. 

Also, most contractors are sweet talkers ;)

They are going to try to impress you with how much they know or with how much experience they have. Which makes it easy to like them, but hard to know if you can really trust them...

I also can’t promise these conditions with which I am recommending you hire someone are fool-proof.

Some contractors change over time (like they get better or more sloppy over time) or you could just be catching a guy on an off day (or if they are going through personal problems, that can reflect in their work).

But you can usually tell a contractor's true colors by knowing:

  1. Where you found them
  2. Through the 3 Trust Factors

If you got their name through a family friend and they have lots of great references, give you a price you are comfortable with and are insured/bonded, then you are probably going to have a great experience :)

What do you look for in the help you hire?