How to Find and Hire a Reliable Home Contractor

It can be perplexing to choose the right contractor. Here are tips to find a reliable residential general contractor, and preliminary questions to ask.
Written by Jason Unrau
Reviewed by Carrie Adkins
Home remodeling is a booming industry. Americans spend around $350 billion dollars annually on home improvements, many of which are done through the services of a home contractor. But for those who have a project in mind, it can be perplexing to choose the right contractor. Will they get the job done to your satisfaction? Do they work safely? And will they do what they say they will do? Here are tips to find a reliable home contractor and preliminary questions to ask, with a little help from
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What does a home contractor do?

First, what role does a home contractor play in your project? Also known as a residential general contractor, these professionals take on the responsibility of making your project go smoothly, on time, and on budget.
The contractor isn’t always involved in the work as there will likely be trades involved outside the contractor’s expertise. It’s their job to line up the trades, pull the permits, and ensure the work has been done to spec.
Here are a couple of tips for finding a reliable contractor for your home renovations.
MORE: 6 home improvement projects that will save you money on home insurance

Don’t settle for a ‘licensed’ contractor

Anyone can write "licensed" on their business card. So, how can you tell if your general residential contractor is actually licensed or not? Two ways: ask to see their certification or license, or simply ask where they were licensed.
National Association of State Contractors Licensing Agencies
(NASCLA) offers an opportunity to verify your contractor’s license with their governing state agency. If something doesn’t line up, you might have cause to question their qualifications.
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Look them up with Better Business Bureau

If you’re wondering what other customers have had to say about possible contractors, look them up with the
Better Business Bureau
. If there have been complaints lodged against the business you’re thinking about using, it should set off alarm bells in your head. And if they are either unresolved or were settled unsatisfactorily, definitely ask the contractor about it before going ahead with their services.

Questions to ask potential contractors

If you’re going to be spending thousands of dollars on renovations or construction in your home, it better be done how you want it. You can never ask too many questions in your effort to get the right results. Here are four to ask any home contractor you get a quote from.

Can I see your references?

References can be misleading if you only get good reports from previous customers. However, any contractor should be happy to put you in contact with their satisfied clients. If they’re having trouble providing enough references to satisfy you, or the reports aren’t as glowing as you thought they should be, think about choosing a different contractor.

Who takes out the permits?

While it’s possible for a homeowner to take out permits in most cases, it’s better for a professional to do it. Sure, you pay for their time and expertise to do so, but then the permit will be correct. So, always confirm with the home contractor that they will be the one taking out the permit. And if they’re a good, reliable contractor, they’re going to ensure it’s a service they provide.

How often will you be on site?

To achieve the vision you have for the project, it’s important that it’s monitored on a regular basis. That way, any deviations can be corrected before it’s too late. Ask a contractor how often they’ll be onsite to check progress and supervise work. At a minimum, a contractor should stop in on trades before the next step proceeds.

Will the job site be cleaned?

The end result should always be a stunning reveal, not a workspace that needs to be cleaned up. A quality, reliable contractor will ensure your home renovation will be done when they leave, cleaning included. No scraps left on the floor, and no messy dust to sweep up.

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