Hiring Contractors

Hiring contractors can be difficult.  Who should I hire?  How much should I pay?  How do I know I’m not gonna get screwed over?  Here’s a few tips to getting the good contractors and avoiding the bad.

two man holding white paper

First and foremost, it is a good thing if they are licensed and insured.  However just because they are licensed doesn’t necessarily make them a good contractor.  They can still overcharge and not be as skilled as someone who isn’t licensed.  Now there are a lot of handyman services that are great professionals and have low costs, but just beware of the risk of getting someone who really isn’t that handy and will try to con you out of money.

Where to Find a Good Contractor

Where do you find a good contractor?  Ask around with friends and family, people in your neighboorhood that had similar work done, or talk to people at your local hardware store to see who they recommend.  Once you have some phone numbers give them a call to ask a few questions.

Questions to Ask

  • How much experience do they have and do they have experience in your project?
  • Can they give references of previous customers who would be willing to talk to you and/or show you the work they have done in the past?
  • Do they have other projects going on? If so, how many and will they interfere with they’re ability to complete your project in a timely manor?

Now take the top 3 and ask them to meet at the house for estimates.  Make sure they give detailed estimates with specifics on the cost of materials, labor, they’re profits, and any other expenses.

I once had a drywall contractor that was licensed and insured with a big pickup truck with his company name on the back come give me an estimate.  He got his measurements and when I asked him how much it would be his only answer was a vague “I charge $30/hr.”  That tells me nothing, I told him to get back to me on a price and he never did.  So needless to say I never called him again.

Check Their Background

Once you have met the contractors in person and have been given estimates, you’ll want to do some follow-up research.  Check out the work they have done, preferably the ones that are currently going on.  See if the workers are professional, organized, safe, and clean up after themselves.  Last but not least, you might wanna check out they’re licence number to see if they are legit.  Check with the Better Business Bureau to see if they have any disputes with previous clients.  Also read any online reviews you can find from previous clients.

Compare the bids and decide which one will do the best job for the fairest price.  Ask them to meet up to discuss the contract.  Don’t always go with the one that is the cheapest, there may be a reason why they are giving such a low-ball price.

Only Pay After the Work is Done

One of the main points I want to emphasis is to beware of the contractor that asks to be paid before any of the work has been done.  If you remove the incentive then what motivates them to work.  When you ask you dog to do a trick you reward him after he does the trick right?  Its the same for contractors.  This way they have to make up for they’re initial costs in order to make a profit.

Unless it is a huge renovation with a lot of money involved they will not ask for the whole amount of materials and labor.  If it is a large project they might ask for the money upfront to pay for a large material costs (generally 10%).  This is fine as long as you have a written contract stating the payment schedule.

The payment schedule should be set at milestones of work completion throughout the duration of the project.  Set four milestones.  At the first three milestones they get 25% and 15% once they complete the entire project and you check to make sure they completed all the items on the contract to the quality standard stated on the contract.  If you have a tight deadline you might even throw in extra bonus incentive to complete the project ahead of schedule.


In summary, just make sure that everything is covered under contract.  A lot of contractors will try to rush you into signing something that you don’t understand.   Remember that you are the one in control.  Have a very detailed contract that states the start and completion dates, the work that must be done, what materials are to be used, quality standards, how much you will pay them, and the payment schedule.  Also require them include proof of insurance, workers compensation, and lien releases on any debts if they don’t pay them.   That’s why they are called contractors right?


If this article helped you out in anyway please feel free to let me know by leaving a comment down below.

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