Finding a good contractor is one of the most difficult things that homeowners face. The reasoning behind this isn’t necessarily that there are so many “bad” contractors, as it is that every homeowner is very particular in their own way. The job of a contractor isn’t that of a dentist. For example, if there is a cavity, it is filled pretty much the same way any other dentist would do it. With re-modeling, every single project is different in even the smallest details. Here are some of the steps you should use in order to choose a great contractor.

Obtain referrals: There are several ways to find potential contractors. Usually, the easiest is to begin by seeking recommendations from family members and friends. Keep in mind though that anyone making a personal referral may not have had the same type of work done or had it done on the same budget as yours.

Interview candidates for the position: After you have found some potential contractor candidates, make some calls to get a sense for how comfortable you’ll be with them working in and around your home. Some great questions to ask them are:

• How long have you been in the contracting business?
• Who will be assigned as project supervisor for the job?
• Do you have compensation for your workers, and liability insurance?
• How many projects, similar to mine, have you completed in the past year?
• Can you give me a list of references and a list of referrals and/or suppliers? 

Avoid red flags: For example, a contractor offering a very low bid usually means he’s cutting costs with cheap material among other things. Poor quality materials or a contractor rushing to get a project done cheaply could end in disaster. Don’t forget to check and see if any formal complaints have been filed on his business. Here are a few other red flags from a potential contractor.

• He requests a significant amount of money up-front
• He wants “cash only,” and refuses to take a check, or money-order
• He has a P.O. Box, not a physical address

Narrow down your options: Narrow your options down to a only a few contractors; then begin eliminating them based on their individual references. What you will be looking for when you check references are that previous projects were done on time, at the discussed price, and that the quality was exceptional. Again, be absolutely sure that they are licensed and have workers’ compensation.  

Write everything down: Get an agreement in writing. A formal contract will protect you in case something goes wrong (which, in remodeling jobs, is inevitable). A verbal contract is extremely difficult to prove, should anything go South. Also ask for a certificate of insurance  in case there’s an accident. The contract also should include payment form, as well as the start and completion date.

For more tips on how to save on home renovations, check out these articles and also watch the video below:

Questions to Ask Potential Contractors

Check if Any Formal Complaints Have Been Filed Against the Contractor

Find a Contractor – Angie’s List

Questions to Ask Potential Contractors

Check if Any Formal Complaints Have Been Filed Against the Contractor

Find a Contractor – Angie’s List


  1. Quinn

    Absolutely check references! The contractor I hired gave me a list of references on his bid, but I didn’t check them because I had heard from so many people that he was great. Unfortunately, those were only his “good” references. I can’t agree more with the article, be sure to look up the contractors’ license, and see if there are any formal complaints. I didn’t do this and it was a nightmare.

  2. Katherine C

    Finding the right contractor is hard. Honestly, I’ve never been perfectly satisfied with either of mine. They do O.K. work. If you’re doing a renovation, you definitely need an architect. They’ll really make a huge difference when it comes to the final result of your project.


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