Finding the right contractor is no easy task. With over 57 million results for "home repairs" on Google, it's nearly impossible to know where to start. Do you pick the one with the shiniest website or the most relevant video? Do you hire someone because their ad was shown next to your search query or because they have the lowest price? It's no wonder that hiring a contractor can be such a nerve-wracking process — but it doesn’t have to be. To ensure that you're making an informed decision, check out our tips about how to find trusted contractors online and avoid common mistakes.
When searching for a local contractor online, it’s typically best to start your search in local community message boards (such as your town’s Facebook group). Most towns have some sort of discussion board where the community can discuss topics. The reason why this should be your first step, is because you get unfiltered reviews from members of your town. They aren’t swayed to post a good review by the contactor and being able to speak freely to them asking about their experience (good AND bad) can bring up topics you might not have even thought to ask.
Furthermore, ask residents to show pictures of the contractor’s work. Sometimes, contractors will show off only the best parts of a job, leaving other areas that aren’t “highlight-worthy” off their portfolio. By asking a neighbor their experience and seeing pictures of the job, it can help you get a better idea of what the potential contractor is capable of.
We highly recommend asking around your town when searching for a contractor. As most licensed contractors get the bulk of their work off reviews, going straight to the source of previous clients is the best place to start your contractor search.
The next logical place to continue your search is to simply search the internet for “*type of job you want done* contractor near me”. Without getting to much into the meat and bones of how search engines work, contractors that have a good rating and positive reviews will usually show up towards the top. Those are the ones you want to start with.
In an ideal world, you should find one or two contractors that you already have feedback on from asking in your community Facebook page. Now, instead of having homeowners’ opinions from your community, you can read through the publicly posted reviews. This hopefully should help you narrow down your list of potential options.
If you haven’t heard of Houzz before, we highly recommend you check it out when looking for a reputable contractor. Houzz is an online community dedicated to architecture, interior design, and home improvement projects. They also have a database of contractors in your area, searchable by the specific job type, location, design style, and price range.
We recommend Houzz as a way to “check your work” when researching a reputable contractor in your area. If you’ve heard nothing but great reviews on a particular company from residents on your town Facebook group, have read great reviews on their Google My Business page, and are mostly convinced you found the “one”, confirm it with Houzz. Their unique award system highlights companies that do phenomenal work and utilizing their search page allows you to find the best contractors for your job.
The main objective of the search is to make sure that the contractor you find knows how to do the project you want. If you’re getting your bathroom remodeled, it’s probably best to go with a home improvement contractor over an HVAC contractor. There’s nothing wrong with hiring a contractor that specializes in multiple areas, but no one is an expert at everything. In the event you find a contractor like this, take note what types of jobs they’ve frequently done in the past. If they are advertising as a kitchen remodeler but have done 6 deck installations and a few roofing jobs, be cautious that they might not be experts on kitchens.
You should also search for a contractor that can be transparent throughout the process. As a homeowner, you should ask as many questions as you can to make sure they are the right company for the job. Contractors that hesitate to answer or don’t answer at all are ones you want to avoid. Considering the large price tag attached to most home improvement jobs, there should be no uncertainty going into the project. If there're questions about the type of screws being used — ask it.
Do whatever is needed to vet your contractor to make sure they’re right for the job. The good news with this is if it’s a good contractor, they’ll have these answers prepared with proper documents and materials to help educate you. No contractor should ever get annoyed with you asking questions; that is a big red flag.
When searching for product reviews online, you will often come across a common misconception related to the impact of positive and negative experiences on reviews. Many people assume that positive products or services lead to positive reviews, and negative products or services lead to negative reviews Yet, in reality, positive experiences actually lead to fewer overall reviews than negative experiences.
When taking customer reviews into consideration, one should be careful about how they interpret them. It is important to read the reasons behind the reviews: whether the reviewer felt that the contractor treated them poorly, or that they were not satisfied with the final outcome of their project. The most accurate reviews will focus on the product or service provided by the business; not on how it was provided.
Once you have found a company you think fits your requirements, we definitely suggest taking a look at their website (if you haven’t done so already). The website will give you a good idea of the contractors’ services and expertise, which will ensure that when you hire them for the job, you can rely on them to deliver results.
Furthermore, take note of how the site looks and functions – modern websites are designed to portray an extension of the company itself. And while we don’t believe that a website is the sole determining factor of a home remodeling contractor, your first experience of the company website can tell you a lot.
Does it look cluttered? Is it hard to navigate through the site and/or did you ever lose track of where you were? Most importantly, are there any pages that lack information preventing you from fully understanding what the company offers as services?
If you can confidently answer “no” to the above questions, you are one step closer to finding a home improvement contractor for your new project.
On the other hand, if you answered “yes” to any of the three questions, don’t fret, be be mindful of what made you answer "yes". Again, websites are not always the main focus of a construction business. Many reputable contractors don’t have up-to-date websites since they get the bulk of their jobs via word of mouth. But you should still take that into account.
If you’ve gone through all these steps and found a contractor that does the type of work you need, has good reviews, a modern website, and seems like they are an overall fit, then start the process with them! Research prior to interacting with the company is only to get you acquainted with who they are and what they do. It’s to get you comfortable with the company before making initial contact.
Are these steps foolproof? Not at all. Most importantly, they’re not meant to be.
They’re meant for you to go through the proper research stages so you have the highest chance of getting the outcome you want while knowing your money will be put to good use.
Always do the necessary research when searching for a contractor online. Many contractors make a promise and fail to deliver. To be safe, do your homework before signing the dotted line. Use online resources to learn about companies you’re considering hiring. By comparing local home improvement reviews, you can get an idea of how different companies perform on certain services and what kinds of problems past clients have had with those companies.
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