Shopping for a Contractor Published on: October 10th, 2003

Once you make a decision to do some work on your home, the next step is to call in some contractors for estimates and ideas. Most homeowners don’t think they need to have their wits about them until the salesperson is sitting in front of them. That’s a big mistake. So what is the right way to go about this often overwhelming process? How do you know if you’ve let the right contractor into your home? Here are a few tips to help make your home improvement projects as successful and worthwhile as possible.

Before you call anyone in for an estimate, there are some very important decisions to make. Are you the type of person who wants to deal with an established reputable company with a place of business (which will cost a little bit more money), or are you the type of person who wants to be your own general contractor and hire someone that works out of his truck or home (which should be less expensive)? There are numerous different types of contractors out there, but only one is right for you.

The truth is, you should only be comparing apples with apples. If you call in the largest construction company you can think of, a mid-sized local establishment, and your cousin’s friend Johnny, you haven’t accomplished anything. You’re pricing three different quality products and three different levels of service. Remember, a guarantee is only as good as the company that issues it. Just because something is cheaper doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the better deal.

If you know your cousin’s friend is not what you want because you don’t want to deal with a pickup truck contractor, and the high prices of the national chains leave you questioning if the product is really worth the price, you should be calling in three local, established companies. Not only do you get an accredited company you can trust, but their prices will be much more reasonable. You can really compare prices and products on a level playing field. These midsized companies can be found in local papers, local television commercials, radio station ads, or by word of mouth. Just be sure to visit the company’s showrooms. With a little bit of deception, many pickup truck contractors can seem like a midsized company.

Once you’ve found your local companies, make sure you get all the quotes in writing so that you can refer back to the estimate if you have any disagreements when the work is being done. It is also a good idea to check with your local Better Business Bureau and Consumer Affairs. They will not only tell you if the contractor has a lot of complaints, but will tell you how long they have been in business under that company name. Lastly, when dealing with salespeople, the best piece of advice is always “trust your instincts.”

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