Every Homeowner’s Challenge: Tips On Finding The Right Contractor

“If the women don’t find you handsome, they should at least find you handy.” Canada’s Steve Smith made this quote famous as his alter ego Red Green on the long-running TV show. As someone who doesn’t fit comfortably in either category, I’d like to add a line: “If you’re neither handsome nor handy you should at least generate enough income to hire a contractor for those necessary home improvement and maintenance projects.”

If you’ve achieved that much, the key is to get good at choosing the right contractor. That’s something anyone can learn. In fact, thanks to the folks at Gentek, I can teach you right now. As a manufacturer of siding, windows, doors and accessories, Gentek relies on a network of premium contractors to properly install its products. In fact, if you’re using Gentek products you can plug in your postal code on our Contractor Locator page to find a local contractor that meets Gentek’s high standards.

Whatever your project, a little work at the front end to find the right contractor for your needs can save you time, money and headaches as the project progresses. Here are some tips to help you do that:

  • Always get at least three estimates. You’ll be amazed how different they can be.
  • Check with the Better Business Bureau about companies you’re considering. Request and check references.
  • Ask around: a solid recommendation from friends or family can be worth its weight in gold.
  • Don’t pay in advance. A deposit is acceptable. Make sure you make a cheque out to a company name, not an individual.
  • Resist high-pressure sales tactics and door-to-door salesman. There’s probably a reason they have to sell so hard.
  • Get a written contract that specifies the price, work to be done and a time frame.
  • Be careful of price gouging, especially in the immediate aftermath of a storm.
  • Pay by credit card, if possible: it may give you additional protection if there’s a problem. Otherwise, pay by cheque. Never pay cash.
  • Ensure that the contractor’s vehicle has signs or markings on it with the business name and phone number.
  • All estimates, warranties and promises must be put in writing on company letterhead.
  • Ask for proof that licences and registrations are valid, the contractor and any related trades people are bonded and third-party insurance and injury insurance is in place.

Most of all, trust your gut – if there is anything that makes you uncomfortable about a prospective contractor, don’t use them. For most people, your home is your biggest investment. If you follow these tips, you will greatly increase the odds of a positive experience that will help you enjoy your home and enhance its value.

Next Time: Choosing Colours For Your Home’s Exterior