10 Tips for Hiring Service Professionals

By HomeAdvisor

Updated July 8, 2019

Hiring a contractor is a great way to ensure that your home project goes smoothly and turns out exactly how you want.

Here are 10 tips to help you find the best contractor near you!

1. Confirm the Service Professional Works for the Company

Verify that the individual with whom you are speaking is an authorized agent of the company.

HomeAdvisor checks every professional profile to ensure that professionals are valid, however it is a good idea to double check.

When contacted by a company, make sure to get the person’s name and phone number that you speak with. This way you can reference them when you call back, and also make sure that what they tell you is common knowledge among the rest of the people you work with.

Making sure that you are all on the same page will decrease the chances of miscommunication between you and the company.

2. Ask For a Copy of the Company’s License

It is important that you verify the license is still in good standing. Also keep in mind that certain states or provinces do not require licensing if the job is under a certain dollar amount.

You can find a list of your state’s licensing requirements on the HomeAdvisor website. We recommend before working with a service professional, that you verify information presented is still current and/or acceptable to you.

It is always a good idea to obtain a copy of the service professional’s insurance certificate for future records and in case anything happens. This is a good way to feel more secure in your home project and to weed out individuals who could be scammers.

3. Ask For Proof of Insurance

Ask the company to provide a copy of their insurance certificate. We recommend that you verify with the insurance agency or carrier that the policy is still in good standing.

General Liability insurance typically covers a contractor for accidents that occur while the contractor is working. However, there are exclusions to coverage, and you should confirm the actual scope of the contractors coverage directly with the contractor.

4. Finalize the Contract Before Starting on a Project

It is important to clearly lay out the plans for any home project, in case there are any disputes in the future. Writing up and signing a written contract between you and your contractor will make room for dispute much smaller.

A good contract…

  • Should be written on company letterhead
  • Should contain the company’s name, address, phone numbers, and license number (if applicable)
  • Should contain the consumer’s name, address (where work is to be performed), and phone numbers
  • Is dated when it is written
  • Includes a detailed description of the work that is going to be performed
  • Provides dollar amounts associated with each task included in the project
  • Includes an anticipated/estimated start and finish date
  • Provides a payment schedule
  • Includes a termination clause
  • Contains a clause that protects the homeowner from any potential mechanics liens once you have paid the contractor in full
  • Clearly states whether permits will be pulled, and who will be responsible for pulling them.

5. Make Payments Directly to the Company

Do not pay an individual, instead make sure that all finances are handled with the company itself. This will ensure that there is no dispute about payments being received or not.

It will also ensure that the individual is doing the work that they have been assigned to do.

6. Avoid Paying With Cash

Check and credit cards are preferable, and be sure to get a receipt for all payments.

Paying with cash leaves large room for scamming, because there is no digital or paper trail to confirm whether payments have been made or not.

7. Withhold Final Payment Until You Are Satisfied With the Project

Don’t pay in full until the project is completely finished and you have completed your final inspection.

If subcontractors were used, be sure to get signed releases from all subcontractors clearly indicating that they have been paid in full by the general contractor.

For larger projects, don’t make the final payment until you have passed the final building inspection.

8. Don’t Advance Money For Materials

If absolutely necessary, make sure the materials are delivered to your house with a receipt showing that they have been paid in full.

Advancing money can lead to improper spending and over-spending on unnecessary items. It is best to make sure that you only provide enough money for the items that are relevant at that time.

9. Check Multiple References

In addition to reading the company’s HomeAdvisor Ratings & Reviews, consider checking additional references for the service professional.

Companies will often have customer reviews on their website, and Google & Yelp will have company reviews as well. These can be helpful tools to make sure that the contractor you use will do the best job on your home project.

10. Document All Changes to the Contract

Make sure all changes to the original contract, no matter how small, are documented and signed off by both parties.

This will ensure that there is no question as to whether something was agreed upon or not and will save you a lot of headaches in the future.


  1. Joan Hoffman, July 7:

    I had a man come over and look at the windows, shower, and other things I wanted done. His estimate/quote was very high. He wanted to sell me products that I did not really want. I feel he misrepresented himself. After he left my home from giving me the quote, I told him, I was not interested. I almost made a terrible error in having him do the work. He does not follow the advice you give above. In fact he did not seem ethical at all.

  2. Clinton Bronson, August 10:

    Must verify bidding contractors have both liability and workers compensation insurances. Does Home Advisor confirm that already? Only one bid was received.

  3. N. Bowens, October 13:

    Do not use Sears. They have high upfront prices, and they still may not be able to fix the problem. Plus you still may need to pay for parts in addition to the service.

  4. JACK MOGUS, October 26:

    Does Home Adviser verify proper licensing and insurance coverage??

  5. Patricia Hayes, December 13:

    I hired Galaxy Electrical to find a problem for me. They came out and fixed the problem and were wonderful to work with. Very pleasant and reasonable. I would highly recommend them

  6. Louriely Mina, December 22:

    I’m really happy my refrigerator is all fix the guy that you recommended is very nice & very polite & he also works fast. I’ll be coming back again in the future for more referral. Thank you so much for helping me.

  7. Nancy oliva, May 12:

    I hired Matt of Artic Fox Cooling Co. He did a great job and was done earlier than expected with no issues . I felt his price was good too !

  8. Amanda Drew, October 5:

    That’s a good idea to make sure that the license is in good standing and what licenses are required by the state. I need to hire an excavation contractor. See, I want to put in a really nice and professional-looking retaining wall into my backyard so that the whole area can be terraced instead of the fairly steep slope it is right now.

  9. Karen Bader, October 13:

    Barnes painting has been the best pro we’ve been given by home advisor. Mother’s maids were sooo expensive. Would never use them again. And bob the handyman talked more than work and charged us for his time wouldn’t use him again for a handyman. Gotta get really picky and be aware!!!!

  10. Joseph. Reustle, January 20:

    I just want to know is there
    a service charge

  11. Tess, January 27:

    I’m a single mom/grandma.Will move in on a recently purchased 700 sq ft condo on April this year. The inspector said I need some minor fix on some electricals and drains, and I want it repainted again with counter carpentry in the kitchen. Is it possible to ask for a package estimate for these things so I can at least prepare financially ? Please let me deal only to one person in case this project will push through.

  12. DANIEL WHITWORTH, January 27:

    I would like to write a review for the Contractor / Team that came to my house today- they did a awesome job! How or where do I go to do that?

  13. Doris, February 1:

    I have no other questions just want to know if there is a fee for using Home Advisor

  14. HomeAdvisor, February 6:

    Hi Doris,

    There is no fee for homeowners to use the service. There is, however, a few for Service Providers to join HomeAdvisor. Check out our homepage (https://www.homeadvisor.com/) for more information.

  15. David Langley, February 28:

    The one plumbing company that contacted me wanted almost 70 bucks to give me an estimate. I was in business in NYC for 55 years and I never charged for estimates. If I were to get 3 or 4 competitive estimates it would amount to 1/4 the cost of the appliances. Are there any honest plumbers out there who would give me an estimate without charging?

  16. walt, March 5:

    The Summit Building & Roofing Co. came and fix my yard with no problem and the job they did was great. I was very pleased with there work. I will call them for work in the future.

  17. Jean-Guy Allen, March 12:

    I did business with Coastal Mowing for my tree removal and I am really satisfied with their work. The job has been done exactly the way they told me that they will do it and it is something that I really appreciate from contractor.
    Thanks to Coastal Mowing for their good work.
    Jean=Guy Allen

  18. Faye Samples, March 13:

    I was very pleased with Drain King! He was very professional and very nice! He was on time and finished the job very quickly! I would recommend him to my best friends!

  19. C. Sheppard, April 23:

    Thank you for recommending ARC to fix my sprinkler problem. Armando came today to analyze the cause, and he was able to do the work and to install the necessary part. His fee was reasonable. I would highly recommend this company. C. Sheppard

  20. Jan Van Pelt, April 26:

    I contracted with H & S Services to have the exterior of my house painted. The Project Manager showed up on time to evaluate the work I wanted done and sent me an estimate by e-mail two days later. I received an estimate from another company also and chose H & S to do the work. Luck and beautiful weather was on myside and I was called on 4/18 and they said they were going to come pressure wash the house to get it ready for painting on 4/21. They were right on time again and preceded with the job. It was all finished on 4/23. They worked hard, were extremely polite and answered all my questions patiently. I can highly recommend them. They do general contracting ie. remodeling, tile installation, framing ect. as well. I am going to have them put some tile in my kitchen wall for back splash next. I have other projects coming up and they are on the top of my call list! Great people and they do great work

  21. Erika Vasquez, June 4:

    We had to get our Sump Pump replaced, PH Maintenance did a great job, they came on time and went to work immediately, we definitely will use them again

  22. D. Blackmon, June 15:

    After getting two estimates on a home HVAC repair, I chose True Mechanical Solutions, LLC (TMS) . They were professional, prompt and courteous. In addition, the technician was very knowledge and did not attempt push expensive alternatives (unlike the other company). The replacement item was under warranty and TMS provided a one year service warranty. The repair cost was reasonable. I highly recommend this firm. Thank you Home Advisor.

  23. Pat, June 29:

    Newpro called us in regards to a walk-in shower project. They were here for 2 hours and did not want to take “we will let you know” for an answer. The initial cost was $14,000 but they would drop it to $10,000 if we sign immediately. This was to remove the existing tub and install the walk-in shower. It included some mold treatment and handicap bars. I did tell them I would let them know but decided it was just too stressful so I did not call. Today they called 5 times within 7 minutes. This company is extremely a very high pressure company and would never use them for anything.

  24. Easton Memmott, August 27:

    I thought that your tip to check if the contractor works for the company you hired was incredibly useful. I don’t want to pay anybody who is not a part of the contracting company. When I need to hire a contractor soon, I will be sure that they belong to the company whom I have hired.

  25. bill coward, September 4:

    This will be the third time I have submitted my information.
    I have some exterior stucco repair, I want the exterior Painted, stucco only.
    If the price and timing is good I will and in my 600 sq ft deck.

    Or have someone call me if you are not interested 6143336373. Winter is coming.

  26. Dan, September 13:

    I just got an estimate that stated 50% up front and the rest at completion of job does that sound right

  27. HomeAdvisor, September 17:

    Hello Bill,

    Follow the instructions in this link and you’ll receive calls from pros who can help.

  28. MA Matters, November 13:

    I just had a bad experience with a seemingly reputable contractor who painted the interior walls of my house once and then claimed he did it twice per the contract. Do not assume/trust that your contractor is giving you what is outlined in the contract. Protect yourself by being there while they’re working, watching and communicating with them to make sure you get what you’re paying for. Not all contractors are dishonest, of course, but this one was and I could not have been more disappointed. Buyer beware!

  29. C. Smith, November 27:

    Is it necessary to give contractor a deposit when signing the contract with them? If so, how much do you recommend? The contractor we decided to use mentioned a deposit. We have not yet signed a contract.

  30. Royce Tollman, January 9:

    The handyman that was sent out never finished the project. A door is left un-trimmed with weather coming around it and the closer was not installed correctly. They never came back to finish their work.

  31. R. Hilton, March 27:

    I just had one of the nicest contractor out to clean up and mow our very large backyard. I was impressed with the owner Darrell who was very accommodating and had his workers out right away and did a great job. Couldn’t be happier with the job done. Thanks Darrell And your crew!!!!!!!

  32. Carol McEvoy Moore, April 9:

    I don’t like giving a deposit to a contractor that I don’t know. Much less some company with a website that sends me an email link to pay. When you get to my home and do the work, I’ll pay. I do not want to pay a deposit 1 week, 2 weeks or a month in advance to save a spot on the schedule.

  33. Hayley, May 25:

    My father and I are currently out of state. The 2 contacts provided by Home Advisor both called within 40 minutes in my receiving these sources from Home Advisor. I asked both several questions during these calls and explained our absence from our property until next month. We do not have a specific return date. However, I promised a follow up call to both for the end of next week to set up a scheduled date; we will have nailed down a date of return. We do have other projects but these will be addressed @ a later time; we will contact Home Advisor for sources/contacts. I have used Home Advisor for my property in MA.. My deck work was completed quickly and I gave 5 out of 5 stars to the source in all areas of quality!!

  34. Jane, July 27:

    I have made a huge mistake in “hiring” my current contractor. I wish to help someone else not make the mistakes I’ve made. First, GET A BID IN WRITING. Second, CHECK CONTRACTOR LICENSE AND INSURANCE VISUALLY. Don’t just believe what they say, or what Home Advisor writes about them. Third, if you decide to hire them GET A CONTRACT IN WRITING. Including cost of project and length of time to complete project. I am way too trusting of a person and I am paying for that now. I did not do the most important things and my simple project that should have taken a few days has taken 2 weeks and still not close to being finished. I am extremely unsatisfied with this particular contractor.

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