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A Contract for Success: Hiring the Right Contractor

Last Updated on October 5, 2011

Here’s a secret: hiring a contractor is one of the most important things a homeowner must do. Without the right contractor, you can lose time, money and patience. In this economy, no one can afford to work with an inexperienced and unreliable contractor. Thankfully, there are a series of easy steps that can make this search successful. Think of this process as something you would do when buying any kind of good or service. You get all the facts, talk to several providers, review the numbers and make a final choice.

Recommendations Are Everything

Start with some recommendations that have real value, such as:

  • Learn about how your friend or coworker used this contractor.
  • Was the contractor reliable and effective?
  • Does the contractor have enough experience?
  • Is the contractor able to handle your specific project?

Answering these questions is critical; you do not want to blindly hire a contractor who has no training or list of satisfied customers. Consider this exercise an investment in your own protection: you will be in a stronger position to hire the right person.

Have a Real Conversation

Next, talk to these contractors on the phone. Forget email and texting, and focus on having a real conversation with a contractor. Here are some points to follow:

  • Use this call to ask questions involving your project.
  • Get a sense of the contractor’s personal style.
  • Is he open to criticism and change?
  • Will he respect your opinions?
  • Does he come across as patient and professional?

This initial phone call is your chance to interview a contractor before you meet with him. Use this opportunity to ask as many questions involving this person’s credentials and level of experience. Do not hesitate to examine every relevant issue, because your contractor must appreciate – and honor – your expectations.

Meeting in Person

After a phone call, you should schedule an in-person meeting with a contractor. This meeting will quickly let you know if should hire this person. When conducting this meeting, pay attention to the following factors:

  • Does the contractor project authority and confidence?
  • Does he have the patience to overcome sudden challenges?
  • Does he listen to your opinion and respect your suggestions?
  • Will he work well with his colleagues on your behalf?

This meeting is an occasion to narrow the number of contractors you will hire. Therefore, take control of the interview: have the contractor make a compelling presentation about his qualifications. Use this time to record additional questions or thoughts about this contractor’s willingness to work with you.

The Power of Independent Reviews

Also, take some time to read some online reviews about your contractor. Some of these sites include Angie’s List, Judy’s Book, The Better Business Bureau along with other review sites. These websites will give you information about the following:

  • The contractor’s reputation online.
  • The contractor’s rating among previous clients.
  • The contractor’s level of certification.

Reading these reviews is a quick way to get some helpful intelligence about a contractor or any other vendor.

Is the Contractor Licensed, Bonded and Insured?

Depending on where you live there may be certain licensing and insurance requirements for contractors in your area. Be sure to check with your state or local licensing office when applicable. To see contractor licensing requirements listed by state, please visit

Reviewing a Body of Work

Finally, have this contractor show you – with photographs or an actual visit to a job site – examples of his work. This material allows you to draw some valuable conclusions, such as:

  • You will quickly see if this contractor has a past record of working on projects that match your requirements.
  • You will understand the quality of the projects this contractor oversees.
  • You will know if you want to proceed with this person.

This advice is the best way to move ahead with a trusted and capable contractor. With these recommendations, you can hire an experienced and dedicated professional to help you get the job done.

William Hamlin

William has been a real estate investor for over 10 years, and currently works with home buyers and sellers throughout the St. Louis, MO area. For more information on William, please visit We Buy Ugly Houses St. Louis.

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