Hiring a Contractor?

Hiring a contractor?  First time doing this?  Scared about all the horror stories out there?

Hiring a contractor can be scary and there are a lot of horrible horror stories out there but just like any other industry (auto mechanics, restaurants, retail stores) there are good stories as well.  Doing research and understanding not only your rights but what you should expect is really important.  Whether you’re hiring an electrician, plumber, hvac mechanic, contractor, handyman, landscaper, roofing/siding it’s important to know what to expect both the good and the bad.

Reaching out to any of the skilled trades to start the process or finding who to reach out to

First is figuring out who to reach out to, you can typically find this with a simple google search such as “who should I hire to fix my roof” or “who should I hire to replace my front door”.  The list can go on but you get the idea at this point.  Once you know what type of trade to reach out to, now is finding the right company in that trade.

Finding the right company there are a few different ways to get this information and finding a couple is important which we will talk about why later in this post.  A few of the platforms we find leads from,

  • Google – by far one of the best ways to find what you’re looking for
  • Yelp – it’s not just for restaurants, it can be used for a lot of things
  • Thumbtack – this is an app you can download to phone and used to pick your job and they match you with contractors on their platform
  • Angi’s List & Home Advisor – this is now the same company and you can put in what you’re looking to have done and they will match you with contractors on their platform

No matter which platform you use or finding companies between a few, REVIEWS are your friend.  People write reviews typically when they have had a horrible experience to let others know not to do the same OR when they have had an amazing experience and want to call that out.  We have seen 2 out of 10 new customers will write a review with us sending links and asking for it.  Platforms such as google are gold for reviews as they cannot be modified and they really look to ensure they’re not fake and you cannot remove them as a business owner.  You want to see a minimum of 20+ reviews on a company to show a good trend and you should see a mix of a few negative (not too many) and some really positive reviews.

When you find your companies (we suggest at least 5 companies to reach out and explain why below) go to their websites or platform, email, call, etc to figure out how to schedule an estimate with them.  Reach out to get an in person FREE estimate scheduled with them, YOU SHOULD NEVER BE CHARGED FOR AN ESTIMATE

You will find that out of the 5 companies you have reached out to, some may never get back to you.  Ideally you want to schedule 3 in person estimates.  It’s hard sometimes as many contractors will only respond to people asking for estimates when they are in need of work, if they’re busy at the moment they just will not get back to you.  Others may get back to you and schedule an estimate but then never show up for the in person estimate.

Once you get a few contractors out for in person estimates you should get a written estimate from them within a reasonable amount of time (we send out in less than 48 hours) but 5 business days is realistic to wait for this.  It should be detailed with what work is being done and what’s included in your estimate, if it’s vague that’s not a good sign.

Some things to take into account when making the decision to work with someone is first that they’re licensed, you can visit the attorney generals site for your state and search by their license to ensure they’re current.  Their license information by law needs to be on all estimates and on their website, if it’s not that’s another bad sign.  Next they should have workers compensation insurance, if there was an accident with someone getting hurt on your property and they do not carry this insurance it can hit you as the homeowner as it’s your property.  This is harder to find out easily on website however you can ask for a COI (certificate of insurance) to show that they carry this insurance.  These are the major things you want to check, they will ensure the contractor you pick at least has the minimum to keep you as a homeowner safe.

Once you accept the estimate, you should find out immediately scheduling as to when the work can happen and your contractor will take it from there.  More posts to come about the HICPA (home improvement consumer protection act) and more details about how you can keep from being one of the horror stories.


Derek Anasiewicz is the owner and founder of A to Z Family Business, a company that started as a handyman company and has grown since inception into a local contractor that can handle a variety of different projects. A to Z Family Business is located in the Philadelphia suburbs and works throughout the Philly area including Southern NJ. Visit www.atozfamilybusiness.com to learn more about us


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