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eLocal Guest Post Part 1

By Guest
February 4th, 2011 - 11:15 AM

Adria Saracino from eLocal visits the U-Pack blog with advice on finding a reliable contractor for home repairs and installations. 

How to Hire the Right Contractor: What to Look for and Questions to Ask

The decision has been made: you're moving.

From the day the decision is made to the day you move, there is a seemingly endless list of tasks to accomplish, such as hiring movers and selling your home. And the process of selling your home is no easy task. You need to hire a realtor, put it on the market, hope you sell it, go through inspection, pray the inspection passes and that you go into closing…it's a long task that can be overwhelming.

A majority of this time is spent waiting, and the length of time you wait has a lot to do with your home. The market is slowly getting better, but buyers are still cautious when purchasing a home. They are demanding your home be in tip-top shape at rock bottom prices. If your home sells--and how fast it sells--will depend on how well your home is maintained.

This isn't news; sellers know this. And that is why they do everything they can to their home to make sure it's ready to sell. This often means hiring contractors either before or after the inspection.

Most homeowners find a contractor by searching the Internet. There are an endless number of contractors available in any given area, but how do you know which one to choose? We've compiled a list of things to look for and questions to ask to make sure you select the best contractor for your project.

Questions to Ask Potential Contractors

After you've narrowed it down to a list of 3-5 contractors based on hours, services offered, and awards/certifications, it's time to call each contractor and ask them all the same questions. After explaining your project and asking for a WRITTEN estimate, get to "interviewing." Here is a list of the most important questions to ask:

  • How long do you expect this type of job to take? (Make sure this is included in the written estimate.
  • What type of payment schedule do you expect? (Make sure this is included in written estimate.)
  • Do I need to get a building permit? (Also inquire about his knowledge of building codes in your area.)
  • Can you include a list of materials and suppliers on the statement? (Check suppliers for his credit standing.)
  • Have you worked on a job like mine before?
  • How long have you been in business? Was it always in this state? Are you registered with this state?
  • How many people work for your organization? What are their roles? (You should get a feeling if he/she has adequate help and if the employees are full or part time)
  • Are you insured? If so, may I have your insurance number? (Make sure he/she is insured for property damage, workers' compensation, automobile, and public liability)
  • Do you use subcontractors? (most do) If so, are they insured? (Request license numbers.)
  • How many projects are you/your company working on right now? (Will your project be a priority?)
  • How many do you typically work on at the same time?
  • Who will be onsite and in charge or your job? (Get contact information.)
  • Has your company ever been sued? (Double check with public records.)
  • Have you ever declared bankruptcy?
  • Do you belong to any professional associations?
  • May I have a list of references? (Not all references are the same! Make sure you have each of the following: credit reference, current client, client within last year, clients within last 3 years, clients older than 3 years. Make sure you call the credit reference first, such as the bank.)

In the second installment from eLocal, you'll learn which questions to ask references in order to find out which contractor will best suit your needs.

Adria is the Business Development Specialist for eLocal USA, the nation's #1 directory for finding local plumbing, roofing, and electrical contractors.