Stop asking friends for referrals
You finally decided to redo your kitchen. The mint green appliances were starting to feel a little 1950s anyways (but hey, they still worked!).
Or maybe you’re upset because you came home from your weekend vacation to find your washing machine line burst and flooded your basement. The whole place will need to be redone (bye-bye kitchen reno).
Either way, you’re going to need a contractor. You don’t know any personally so you do the obvious thing…you post on Facebook. Your Facebook groups have never steered you wrong before. Except for that one time they convinced you tight-white jeans were on-trend for 2014.
Or, maybe you just ask a friend. “Only people you’ve worked with, please!”
But here’s the thing…you’re friends (the ones on Facebook and IRL) don’t really know what they’re talking about.
Don’t get me wrong. They may have had a great experience with a contractor. Job done on time. Excellent quality of work.
But is their job the same as yours? Is the contractor qualified to do your type of work? Did they get copies of their qualifications and insurance certificates? Did they visit past job sites to view how their work stood up over time? Do they know how they warranty their work or what it’s like to deal with them when something goes wrong after the job (even great contractors sometimes have issues appear after they’ve finished the job)?
If they’re like most of us they hired the first contractor that took their shoes off at the front door and actually showed up on time. Sometimes that works out. Often, it doesn’t.
So how can you make sure that you’re hiring the right contractor for your job? Follow these tips and you’ll be well on your way to finishing your dream project.
Wait?! But you just said…
Here’s the deal. It’s not that referrals are inherently bad. It’s just that your friends aren’t necessarily qualified to be the ones doing the referring. So here’s what you do…get referrals from other contractors. You’ve probably used some type of contractor in your home that worked well for you (electrician, plumber, etc.). Tell them about your project and ask them if they can refer someone to help you with it.
So how’s that different from asking a friend? Businesses are cautious about referring other contractors because their reputation and business could suffer if they do a poor job. Plus, they will have worked with them on a number of jobs in the past so they can directly comment on the quality of their work and how they interact with clients.
One great source business source you can go to for contractor referrals…your realtor. They build great relationships with tradespeople and are sure to have a couple of recommendations for you.
Check their credentials
Know what skills, licensing, and insurance is required for your specific project. Then ask for those documents. A good contractor will have them readily available to send to you. A disorganized one will take days or weeks to find the proper paperwork. How long it takes them to provide you with this information is a good indication of how organized and prepared they are. Don’t be surprised to find a number of contractors simply drop out of the process at this point. Just count yourself lucky and move on.
Visit some projects
Contractors will want to show you their most recent work. That’s understandable. Newer work will follow current trends for style, construction, and materials.
Do check out some recent jobs so that you can see projects similar to what you want to do but also be sure to look at work from a few years ago so you can see how their work stands the test of time.
Find a good book
Good contractors are busy. They can’t start your job next week. Maybe not even next month. The bigger your job the longer you should expect to wait. For a large scale renovation, it is not unreasonable to wait 6 or more months for them to be able to start your job.
But we promise that it’s worth the wait. Picking a contractor based on how quickly they can start your project is a surefire way to end up spending more of your time and money to get things completed.
Caboodl makes homeownership simple.
If you’ve got a project you want to tackle send us a message. We’d be happy to help.