6 Tips and Tricks for Finding the Right Contractor

Diving into any home project, regardless of scope, is an exciting yet overwhelming undertaking. The lingering question remains ever-present: What is the best way to navigate these projects? 

The first and most important step with any home project is finding the right contractor. It’s crucial to invest in the services of an experienced contractor who can bring your creative vision to life! These professionals handle everything from coordinating subcontractors, dealing with payments, working with architects, and purchasing materials – all while providing overarching guidance throughout the process. To ensure that all goes according to plan, it’s important to not just find someone qualified but to nail down the right contractor to achieve success. 

According to Forbes, a few questions to ask as you search for the right fit include: 

  • How long has your company been in business? 
  • What experience do you have with this type of project? 
  • Do you have the necessary permits or licenses? 
    • Read more here on necessary building permits. 
  • Do you have references? 
  • What is the cost estimate? 
  • What is the timeline for this project? 
  • Are you insured?

In addition to these preliminary questions, here are 6 tips for finding the right contractor for the job: 


Shop Around 

Explore options first and foremost! Ideally, you could collect at least three different quotes from different contractors. Start with recommendations via friends and family. You can also compare contractor profiles online, and request pictures and references from their previous projects. 

Aside from cost, your evaluation should also include the qualifications of prospective hires. Not only should you consider cost and experience with similar work in the past, but also be sure to inquire about prior projects to provide insight into their expertise. Take into account any requirements needed for completion and ask potential contractors how they plan on meeting them. 


Interview Potential Fits 

Once you’ve covered all your bases with research, continue to narrow down your search with interviews via phone or in person. Take note of their communication style and make sure it meshes for what you’re looking for. Do they prefer email? Would they rather communicate through texts or calling? 

Home projects can be lengthy and require an open communication style in the event that questions or issues arise throughout the project. Finding the right contractor can be a challenge, so take your time throughout this phase to pick the best person to assist in making your dreams a reality. 


Request Proof of Licensing and Insurance 

Safeguard yourself and your property from any surprises down the road by verifying a contractor’s licensing status prior to agreeing to their services. Don’t get taken advantage of – check with the state and local government to confirm they are compliant with all legal requirements. Take ownership of your investment by making sure any prospective contractors can provide valid documentation across the board. 


Put a Payment Plan in Place 

Working out an appropriate payment schedule is key to success with any home project. This step gives insight into their financial stability and sense of any professionalism. Most contractors request an initial down payment prior to beginning work, and depending on the level of expense for supplies this could be higher up front. 

A good rule of thumb following the initial down payment is to follow with additional payments as milestones are met or exceeded. Once everything has been completed according to agreed contracts and plans – including lien releases, passing final inspections and completing all punch list items – only then should you finish up the final 10% of the invoice. 


Set Expectations 

Prior to signing a contract, give the potential contractor guidelines for working in or around your home. Without clear communication from the start, it may not be possible for a contractor to accommodate your needs. Make sure you provide all necessary details upfront if an exact timeline and specific boundaries are required – this way, both parties can decide whether or not accepting the job is viable. 

This also includes understanding responsibilities for both parties. For example, you may have to move everything out of a room in order for it to be painted, or even something as small as keeping your pets out of the backyard during certain work hours. 


Put it in Writing 

Writing and signing a written and agreed upon contract between you and your contractor greatly lowers the possibility of an issue arising. You can avoid potential blunders simply by having a clear and comprehensive contract. Doing this will put everyone on the same page and ensure everything goes as smoothly as possible. 

This agreement outlines everything necessary for a successful project, including the materials to be used and who will pay any subcontractors involved. It also provides a detailed description of the work being done and includes dispute resolution procedures. Guarantees on both material quality and craftsmanship should be provided along with start and end dates to help all parties involved track progress. 

With the proper precautions in place, finding the right contractor doesn’t have to be a stressful experience. By being clear about your goals, getting everything in writing, and vetting your potential contractors carefully, you can avoid many of the headaches that come with home improvement projects. And if things do go wrong, remember that open communication is the key to solving conflicts. 




What is a qualified contractor? 

A qualified contractor has relevant experience, appropriate licensing and insurance to work on your project. They will answer any questions to the best of their ability as they come up throughout the project, and will have a payment process in place. 


How do I know if a contractor is a scammer? 

Unfortunately, there are scam artists posing as contractors looking to cheat you out of your money. There are some red flags when it comes to recognizing a scam, including but not limited to: 

  • No insurance 
  • No license 
  • Requires cash payment upfront
  • No references 
  • Difficult to contact 
  • No written contract 


What should you not say to a contractor? 

A few things to steer clear of when communicating with a contractor for your home project include: 

  • Don’t tell a contractor you aren’t in a hurry 
  • Don’t give them permission to choose the materials
  • Don’t tell a contractor they are the only one bidding on the job 
  • Don’t tell a contractor your budget