You know your home needs help, but you’re not sure how to find the right home improvement professional for the job. Whether it’s electrical work, plumbing, or a basement renovation, you’ll want to hire a pro who is knowledgeable, licenced and trustworthy. From research to hiring, the vetting process can be fairly involved, so we’ve broken down the process into 5 easy steps. Here’s HomeStars’ step by step guide to hiring a home pro you can rely on.
1. Search Online
The first step in the hiring process is to find a few companies in your area that could take on your project. In the past, your options would have been limited to the few referrals you could get from family and friends. Today, HomeStars makes it easy to find various companies for any home project. Simply enter your project information on HomeStars.com to get connected with up to three pros in your area.
Your home is your biggest investment, so whether you’re renovating or repairing, you need to make sure your home pro can deliver. Reading reviews and doing your research are the easiest ways to feel confident in your hiring decision. Once you’ve compiled a list of companies you’re interested in, it’s essential that you read reviews. Check out each company’s HomeStars profile to browse customer reviews and see photos of their past projects. Make sure reviews are recent and note the company’s response to both positive and negative reviews. This is a good indicator of the kind of relationship you can expect with the company. Reviews from homeowners in your community should have a major influence over your hiring decision.
2. Check Credentials
Once you’ve narrowed your list down to companies with a solid online reputation and track record, you should make sure that the company is up to date on all of its licenses and credentials. Regardless of the work being done, your contractor should be licenced, bonded, insured and carry Workers Compensation Insurance. A quick online search of their license number will confirm that their documents are valid. Never hire a company that is uninsured or undocumented, even for a minor job.
If the companies are highly-rated and up to date on their licenses, it’s time to arrange to meet in person, ideally at the job site. This is an opportunity to get comfortable with one another, gauge their level of customer service, and get into the details of your project. Ask how often they will be on-site and whether they will be your point of contact for the project. Make sure they are engaged during your meeting. Do they ask questions? Are they friendly? Can you imagine working with this person for days, weeks, months?
4. Get Quotes
At long last, it’s time to get quotes. Note that this step comes after you read reviews, check out credentials and interview candidates. No matter your budget, it’s always tempting to hire the company that gives the cheapest quote. Getting quotes exclusively from contractors you can trust limits the odds of hiring a bad contractor because they gave you a “great” quote. Remember that quotes should be itemized, detailed and clearly broken down. Don’t hesitate to ask for clarification if you have any questions.
5. Obtain a Contract
The last step is to make it official. You should never start any home project without a contract. Your contract should include the quote, a payment schedule, a construction schedule, details on how they will leave your property when the project is finished, what’s covered under warranty, and a plan to resolve disputes. For projects that require a significant deposit, the resolution plan should also include a signed waiver explicitly stating that the company will not put a lien on your home if you miss a payment. If your contract has all of this information and you’re happy with the terms, it’s time to sign and get started.
Vetting pros may seem like a long process, but even a small project can become a nightmare when you’re dealing with a home pro you can’t rely on. Whether you’re hiring for a repair or a renovation, don’t cut corners. Use these 5 steps and you’ll end up with a great pro and a beautiful home.