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“How can I, a homeowner figure out who is a quality contractor?”  I get asked this question a lot.  Here are three common sense secrets that work:

The set-up:   You are of not a home improvement expert, and yet you must to figure out who is so that you spend your money effectively.  You are called upon to answer what constitutes a good job and what is the right price – big tasks!

Regardless of how you source contractors – word of mouth, online roasters, etc. here are three simple steps from my years of evaluating contractors for the homes I built or renovated over many years:

 

Bidding out your home improvement jobs to two or three contractors is good – it establishes only broad parameters.  But that’s all.  The tricky part is figuring out how knowledgeable and reliable each contractor is and what exactly comes with each quote! Some people say, take the middle bid, which is not a bad way to go. But there is a more educated way. Here are three simple and proven techniques to  cull out critical information:

(1) Go around with the contractor. Ask questions and listen carefully to the contractor’s answers and, most importantly, his thinking. See how carefully the contractor checks into details. As a general rule, the more expert he is, the more installation details will be contemplated. The installer will look for and gauge possible hitches and begin to figure out how to solve them.

Getting into this level of detail at the very first scoping out of the job tells you a contractor knows his craft and wants to deliver a smooth installation experience at a fair bid.

(2) Listen for small details. Just about every element of an installation can be delivered at different price and quality levels. Beyond what kind of equipment level is being offered, listen for the little things. For example, what gauge wire is being used with an installation? While the cost might be higher, the job will definitely better quality. Simply taking the middle price quote might miss this kind of important detail. This type of detail is never specified in a bid, yet permeates all aspects of a job. It is part of what creates a top, medium or basic job.

(3) Believe them the first time. If a sales person is not calling you back or a proposal does not come in a timely fashion assume this kind of disregard and delay is likely going to be how the entire installation is run. Contractors either are, or they are not organized – it’s that simple! They will have all kinds of excuses – don’t buy into them.

Simple – right?! It works ever time. Try it in your next home improvement project!

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