Choosing a Contractor

cracked concrete

When large home repairs need to be done, the search for a contractor begins! Some people are lucky enough to have the expertise to do it themselves, or they might have a close friend or family member that does good work, but others have never had to hire a contractor before. This article will discuss strategies to increase your odds of picking a good contractor.

The crack in your driveway has gotten worse every year. While it started out as a thin line, it now resembles something closer to a scaled-down model of the Grand Canyon (and it's a lot less picturesque). You've stumbled over it more times than you'd like to admit, and you’re worried that it’s only a matter of time before someone gets seriously hurt. It’s time to call a contractor to repave your driveway…but where do you start?

First off, always try to find a family member or friend who has had a good experience with the type of contractor you need. Simply putting out a Facebook status of ‘Need a [BLANK] contractor, do you guys know of anyone?’ can usually get you a good list of contractors. However, if your Facebook friends didn't give you a good enough selection, you can always do a quick Google search for ‘[specific type] contractor’. The results will show contractors’ names and the Google reviews. Grab a handful of names and the contact info for the ones who have good ratings.

With your list of candidates in-hand, head over to the Better Business Bureau (BBB) website (http://www.bbb.org/nebraska) where you can search for the businesses on your list. By typing in the name of the business into the search bar, you’ll be able to see each company’s BBB profile. Almost all businesses are listed and rated, but those who are accredited through the BBB paid a fee to get accredited, and are held to higher standards than non-accredited businesses. The rating of the business is a letter grade, and the reason for their grade can be found under the ‘Reason for Rating’ subtitle. The BBB will also show all customer complaints in a chart. Use the BBB’s information to further narrow down the contractors to the most reputable ones. If you pick a BBB accredited contractor, any problems with the contractor can be taken to the Bureau to get the problem worked out.

After the BBB-screening, you should now have a couple of high-quality, cross-checked contractors at this point, so it’s time to get some quotes! Nearly all contractors will provide free quotes, or quotes at a very low price. When you solicit the quotes, keep track of how friendly each contractor is, how flexible they are with getting you the quote, when they think they can start/complete the work, etc. If you really don’t like a contractor, don’t put them into the final running, similarly, make note of any good or bad ‘gut feelings’ on a contractor—those instinctual feelings are usually right.

Once you have the quotes from your final group of contractors, look back at the notes you took on each one. Was the contractor late? How soon could the contractor get started? How long did they estimate the project to take? How did the prices stack up? Was the contractor BBB accredited? How personable did each contractor seem? Take some time to think about the most important part of the project. Weigh the options, and pick the contractor that’s best for your situation!

Note: Before you let that contractor work for you, it is important to make sure they're properly insured. Always make sure to ask for a Certificate of Insurance. Please read this article to familiarize yourself with Certificates of Insurance and the problems that can arise.