Indicators to Look For When Hiring a Contractor
Green Light – Hire This Contractor
While these indicators don’t guarantee that you’ve found the next Norm Abram, they should give you confidence when hiring your next contractor.
The remodeling contractor has a good reputation in the industry.
You already ask friends and neighbors to recommend good remodeling contractors, but a more reliable source of referrals is other people in the trades: a plumber you love who raves about a general contractor, for example, or a great tile shop that suggests a tile setter. They should also be active members of NARI.
His business card includes a local address.
A tradesman who provides a physical address that’s in your community is far less likely to disappear on you than someone whose true locale is hidden behind a post office box.
His list of references is a mile long.
Even terrible contractors have had a few happy clients along the way – or have family members who can play the part when you call. The longer the list of references, the less likely it’s rigged.
“Call a handful of them, skipping around the list,” says Angie Hicks, the founder of angieslist.com, where (for a monthly fee of $4.50 to $8.75, depending on where you live) customers can praise or pan people they’ve worked with – and read one another’s reviews.
Yellow light – Proceed with Caution
There are some good-but-quirky tradesmen who exhibit the following traits. Think twice about hiring them unless every other indicator looks terrific.
The contractor’s vehicle isn’t branded with the company name.
A reputable Atlanta remodeling contractor has a branded vehicle with their company name and phone number. Not having a branded vehicle conveys the contractor might not be fully invested in their business. If you need to get a hold of them two months down the road, they might be working their other job and will get back to you at their convenience.
“That’s not to say everyone has to ride around in a gleaming new truck,” says Dick Mitchell, president of the New Orleans branch of the Better Business Bureau, the national nonprofit that lends its logo to participating companies meeting its standards (you can find a searchable list of member contractors at bbb.org). “But it should be clean and well maintained.” Vinyl decals look more professional than magnetic ones, which are cheap and temporary.
He wants cash.
Even if you don’t care that he’s shirking his taxes by taking cash (or a check made out to cash), consider what other costs he may be cutting – like licensing fees, insurance bills and skilled crew members.
To investigate a potential contractor’s finances, look him up at contractorcheck.com, where (for $13) you can find information about his licensing, insurance and financial stability, as well as any legal actions against him.
He doesn’t provide a cell number.
For the most part, the only way to quickly get hold of a tradesman is by cell phone. If he doesn’t want to give out that number, it isn’t because he’s conserving his minutes – he doesn’t want to be reachable.
Red light – Hire Another Contractor
If you see any of these signs, don’t hire the guy – even if you’ve had good luck working with him before.
He wants to skip the permit – or have you apply for it.
Run for the hills! Any major improvement project legally requires a building permit, which means that inspectors will check the work. If your kitchen remodeling contractor says he doesn’t need a permit, get a second opinion from a quality contractor.
If he wants you to apply for the permit yourself, it could be because he doesn’t have the necessary state licensing – and it means you’d be the middleman between the inspector and contractor instead of letting them work things out directly.
You have an upsetting gut feeling about them. Ultimately, you have to feel comfortable letting this contractor into your home. If you have an unsettling feeling about them or their crew maybe you should consider hiring another contractor.
Quality Craftsmen has 23+ years of experience as Atlanta’s award winning home remodeler. If you have any questions regarding kitchen remodeling, bath remodeling, basement remodeling, or addition remodeling, contact us and we’ll be happy to help.