Would You Marry Your Contractor?

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There are many articles on this subject, "choosing a contractor." Obviously you want to ensure the person or company you trust with your investment in home improvement is qualified. And honest. In some ways, identifying a person/company of the type you want is about the same process as choosing someone to marry.

An honest, skilled, licensed remodeling contractor, who can provide good references and with whom who can communicate easily, is a better choice than "some guy the store recommended" or "my neighbor's cousin." Don't marry someone because Sears recommended them, or on your cousin's advice, either.

Though there are dishonest guys out there, it could be that the majority of all complaints against contractors (or even spouses) result from the consumer failing to use some very basic principles:

1) Don't even think about saving a little money by hiring someone unlicensed. If the guy is cheating the state, what are the chances he'll be honest with you? Think about it.

2) Meet the guy or at least talk to him on the phone long enough to figure out if he's a decent human being. Most of the time your sense of things will be correct. Occasionally you'll be fooled. That is life, the risk of getting out of bed in the morning. But read on, because there are ways to minimize the chances of being fooled.

3) See how quickly the guy or company responds, to calls, emails, quote requests, etc. If he keeps you waiting now, he'll probably keep you waiting while your kitchen is torn apart. This is perhaps the simplest and yet most important indicator of all: how quickly the guy or his office replies to your communications. Raise your hand if you like to be kept waiting.

4) Make sure you get a legal contract that lists everything the contractor is going to do for you, in precise detail, and the price of this. Don't hire someone who cannot or will not provide you with a legal contract. Check your state's contractor website to find out what the requirements for a legal contract are. It is not hard to figure this out and can help you understand your responsibilities and the contractor's, the best assurance there is that everything will go well.

5) Do all you can to avoid a "me versus the contractor" relationship. Remodeling is a team effort. If you don't trust your contractor, if you have ongoing conflicts, if you argue with his bid (although business-like negotiation is fine), if he doesn't show up when he says he will, you have a war, not a team.

Some people run their lives as a series of battles with others. Just as an insider secret, an honest, skilled contractor who genuinely wants to do a good job for you is on the lookout for these types of people and will often turn down work from them. Find someone decent and apply the Golden Rule.

How do you choose a contractor? You simply want a decent human being who operates legally, can communicate with you pleasantly, and has the skills needed to provide the services you need. The suggestions above can help you to identify this type of person or company.

You don't have to marry him/her, but if you find a good contractor, per these guidelines, consider it.


If you'd like to discuss your project with me, I can offer you a free, 30-minute phone consultation. Here's my calendar, just pick a time that works for you.

Susan