As a homeowner, it’s helpful to know the basics of finding a home improvement contractor. From getting multiple estimates, to talking to previous customers, there are a few proven methods of finding the perfect pro. During your hunt for a contractor, make sure to avoid these seven mistakes.
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1. Poor Communication
Open communication is the golden rule of dealing with home improvement contractors. As long as you find a reasonably honest person, asking straightforward questions and clearly delineating what you want and expect from your home projects will eliminate the vast majority of potential problems. Put this verbal communication in writing to protect yourself from unreliable contractors.
2. Waiting Until You Need a Contractor
Not addressing major problems early on can lead to costly replacements in lieu of repairs. Spending $500 on a 20-year-old heating system is not a good investment, but it can take a week or more to find and install the right replacement heating system. As soon as you see signs of trouble, get someone out to your home for a look. Also, be sure to run your heating and air conditioning for an hour during the off-season. Much like a CEO, you should be concerned with the long-term financial status of your home.
3. NOT Hiring a Home Improvement Contractor
There are a number of different home improvements that present themselves as viable DIY projects, only to morph into money-sucking monsters. Fence building, deck building, exterior house painting and drywall repair can all fit into this category. None of these projects are impossible to DIY, but the average homeowner should always lean toward hiring a pro when there is even the slightest doubt.
4. Hiring Someone Who Shows Up at Your Front Door
Avoid door-to-door solicitation. Depending on what your gut tells you, respectfully ask for a business card and look up the company or call the local chapter of your Better Business Bureau to report suspicious behavior.
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5. Hiring Someone to Fix a Problem Wihout Diagnosing It
Don’t hire a pro to solve a problem without addressing the cause. Perhaps the worst thing you can do is ignore recommendations for further repairs. If a contractor can show or explain why damage is occurring, don’t bypass the problem.
6. Being Enticed by Low/High Bids
You should always be wary of bids that are substantially higher or lower than those of the competition. High bids sometimes result from a busy contractor who isn’t looking to take on more work unless the profit margin makes it worth it. Just as you would with a suspiciously low bid, ask both the individual contractor and the rest of the bidding contractors why one single bid is so much higher or lower than the others.
7. Not Looking Far Enough
Don’t be afraid to look for contractors outside of your immediate area. Most home improvement contractors service multiple counties. Many contractors are willing to travel and provide bids — especially for larger projects.