Finding a Reputable Contractor
How to Find a Reputable Contractor
Want to find a reputable contractor? There’s no 100% guarantee but there are several things you can do to increase your chances of working with one.
- Look for a long-established company with a permanent business location and a listed phone number.
- Ask friends, neighbors and coworkers for referrals. Just remember, there is no guarantee that the contractor will not be dishonest this time.
- Contact local trade organizations, such as your local Home Builders Association or contractor associations. Talk to someone at the trade organization and tell them that you want a reputable contractor in your area.
If you’ve found a contractor who hasn’t been referred to you, do additional research:
- Ask for five referrals for recent projects similar to yours. Most contractors are prepared for you to ask for three references, not five. This might catch a “fraudulent” contractor off guard. But remember, this is not foolproof; the references will always be good references and sometimes may be friends of the contractor.
- Get references from the contractor’s material supplier(s). If the contractor has been in business for ten years, and his supplier has only worked with him for a few months, this may indicate a problem.
- Contact each reference and inspect the work if possible.
- Do some background checks before making a decision.
- Check with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to see if there are any complaints against the business. It won’t hurt to check the BBB in surrounding states as well. But remember, just because there are no complaints listed with the BBB does not mean a contractor is not dishonest—just that they haven’t been caught yet.
- Also check with your county or city business license department to make sure the contractor’s business license and contractor license number is valid. It is not uncommon for fraudulent contractors to give you the business license number of someone other than themselves assuming you won’t check them out.
- Call your state’s Secretary of State to confirm the contractor’s business license number.
Using Pre-Screened Contractor Referral Resources
Although using a web site or service that provides pre-screened contractors may minimize the risk of contractor fraud, it does not guarantee against it. Yet, many consumers can be lulled into a false sense of security by this type of “matchmaking” service, putting them at risk.
Here are a few things to take into account before you hire a pre-screened contractor.
- There is no written guarantee that the contractor will perform as expected or how he has performed in the past.
- There is no guarantee that the contractor’s licensing, insurance coverage or other credentials are in the same good standing as when they were listed.
- References offered at the time of membership may now be obsolete or no longer reflective of the contractor’s workmanship. Personal problems or health complications might have arisen that could affect the work quality or integrity of services.
- Ultimately, the responsibility to critique and select a qualified contractor rests on you and not the referral service. Protect yourself; it only makes good sense.