How can I find a reliable contractor to fix my house?
Question: How can I find a good contractor that does follow through, meaning start and complete the job. The last one got started, then I gave them a check and he disappeared on me! I complained and he told me more realistically he needed more money, ok I pay him, and he does more work and I write another check, then he broke his toe and another day his wife was sick, then his dog got hit by a car… the last job is still unfinished!
How can I find a competent contactor that knows how to estimate the cost upfront properly and has a good work ethic? I start to think about just starting my own separate construction company to work for myself. That way I am sure that the insurance is in place and I can pay the guys for what they do and not for wasting my time and costing me money.
Answer: My observations:
- The best ones came through "word of mouth" recommendations, and generally, the best of the best are those who have been in business 20 or more years. My roofer is in business for three generations. But thru the years, I had a few who retired on me, and I had to go search for replacements.
Sometimes, its not possible to do word of mouth, like when I had to operate 40 minutes away from my area, so I get hold of a number of Penneysaver magazines, make sure the guys I talk to are licensed, interviewed 8 or 10 of them, and then call the agency that licenses them to see if there are any outstanding complaints, and call the Better Business Bureau (BBB). I generally find good contractors have enough work that they do not want to drive more than 30 minutes from their area.
- If the job is complex, get someone who is a GC, and can give you references, and you can go see kitchens, bathrooms, they have done.
- Be careful of contractors that specialize in one area. I got a guy highly recommended, did a wonderful roof job in record time, and I wanted the siding done, he talked me into letting him do the siding, and the job went horribly wrong. I learned from this that someone who specializes in roofs is not an expert on siding or anything else for that matter.
- Don't start your own construction company as you'll have to deal with subcontractors. A friend of mine tried that, and had a few horror stories of his own to tell.
- Around here, taking money and not doing the job in a timely fashion can get a contractor arrested, and I saw new reports of such arrests on TV just the other day.
- People have tried with success complaining to local TV stations.