While owning your own home is gratifying, maintaining it is another story. For many busy homeowners, finding the time to make those needed repairs and updates can be challenging, and hiring someone else to do the repairs can be a daunting task, too. To help you out, we’ve come up with a few tips on how to find a good general contractor.


Collect References

To find a reliable contractor, consider asking your relatives, friends, co-workers and even a neighbor for references. Those who work at your local hardware store could also provide referrals.

Important Things to Know About General Contractors

Once you obtain some references, interview at least three contractors. It’s important to clearly explain the job, so the contractor knows exactly what you want. You will want to ask plenty of questions, too. One important question to ask is if the contractor will use his own employees or subcontractors. In many cases, subcontractors could represent unskilled workers hired off the street.

Contractors should also provide information proving they are bonded, insured and licensed to do the work in your state, and ask them to give you the contact information for three of their most recent clients. Then, once you get a bid from each one of the contractors you’ve interviewed, call the references to learn as much as you can about the contractor and if the clients are thoroughly pleased with the outcome of the contractor’s work.

Likewise, you could check with the Better Business Bureau to see if there are any complaints filed against the contractor. The website might produce reviews from the contractor’s clients, as well.

Before Signing the Contract

Once you have decided which contractor to hire, make sure that the contract fully outlines the project before you sign. It should include deadlines, labor costs and the prices of the particular materials used, including model numbers and the source of the materials, too. Furthermore, if you change your mind regarding materials or another detail about the job, get that in writing, too. Remember, unless you have the information documented, it’s your word against the contractor’s word, which could lead to potential disagreements along the way.

The Bottom Line

Finally, don’t pay more than 10 percent down before the work begins, and withhold the rest of the payment if you aren’t pleased with the outcome. If you see a problem, speak to the contractor about it before the job is finished.