When you’re faced with major home repairs, the first impulse you might have is to crawl under a rock somewhere because the process is so overwhelming. If there’s serious damage, you’re worried about long-term effects on your home, plus all the decisions you’ll have to make. Then there’s the matter of your general contractor. Who are you going to entrust with your home? How do you know who is experienced, knowledgeable, and responsible?
Research is essential for best results, so we’ve prepared a list of tips for hiring a contractor and what to consider when you’re vetting a professional. Knowing what to look for can help ease your mind and prevent serious mistakes down the road. Here’s how to choose a contractor:
Yes, going with someone local is good for the economy. More importantly, however, local businesses are easy to vet. You can ask your neighbors about their experiences, and people who live in your area are familiar with where you live and your type of home. Local roofers in Cincinnati or gutter installers, for example, understand the weather in our area and know how to protect your home from the variety of storms and weather conditions we can experience.
If you’re looking to hire a gutter or roofing contractor, check out these helpful tips to guide you through the process:
Lots of people claim to be great at what they do, but it’s best to seek a second (and third) opinion. A brand new general contractor might have great ideas! They could also be terrible at what they do. Look for a company that’s well known for providing high-quality results, excellent service and warranties they stand by. Reputation is everything in the home improvement industry.
You wouldn’t want a first year medical student to handle your brain surgery, would you? No. While construction is very different from neurosurgery, home repairs can be surprisingly complex. And when you’re dealing with something as important as your home’s exterior, you want to know for sure that your contractor can handle whatever they encounter. Businesses with many years of experience have the institutional and individual historical knowledge that will help them problem-solve, spot issues before they occur, and provide a high quality final result.
Don’t try to fit a square peg into a round hole. What we mean here is that while you might be tempted to just hire your neighborhood handyman for your home repair, you should consider what services they offer. Someone who normally does siding and shutters might be excellent at their job- but they don’t necessarily have the experience and skill set required to handle your specific situation. Look for experts who have a proven track record in your particular type of home repair or remodel.
Anyone can claim they’re professional general contractors, but not everyone is fully certified or insured. This is a big deal, especially if something were to go wrong during your home repair process. What if your general contractor damages something in your home? You might be stuck paying even more than you already did if you have to eat the cost of repairs to the damage your contractor inflicted. That’s a painful prospect! Ask for proof of contractor insurance and any relevant licenses they can provide.
The first thing most of us do when we buy a product online is to check the reviews. Did past customers get what they paid for? How was their experience? It’s no different with hiring a contractor. These days, every established home improvement specialist has some sort of online presence, and it’s likely that people have left reviews on Google, the Better Business Bureau, or somewhere else that’s easily searched. Be sure to read several reviews to get an idea of how homeowners felt about their experience.
Don’t forget to ask for a reference list before hiring a contractor. Your contractor should be able to provide a list of past customers you can call. If they won’t provide you with names, that’s a red flag. The best contractors are proud of their work, and if they’re as skilled as they say they are, they should have no problem putting you in touch with happy clients.
One of the most important tips for hiring a contractor is to get all your documents. Ask for a copy of every piece of paperwork involved in the process. This means the proposal, signed contract (with the scope of work and cost included), warranties, and any other relevant items. Keep them in a folder with the business’s contact information somewhere you can easily find it. That way, you can refer to your documents to compare the final work with the proposal and hold your contractor accountable if something’s not right.
If you follow our hiring a contractor checklist, you’ll skip right past scammers to find the right person for the job. Here are some additional red flags for potential contractor scams:
At LeafGuard of Cincinnati, our team members have decades of experience in the home improvement industry. We carry strong warranties on both gutter replacement and roofing installations, our employees go through continuing education, and thousands of customers agree that we stand behind what we do. When you’re ready to hire a contractor, contact us to schedule a complimentary consultation with our 5-star Better Business Bureau rated team.