Contractors can be a builder’s dream or a renovator’s worst nightmare. Shopping around for the best price is everybody’s right. Unfortunately, the cheapest isn’t always the best, yet sometimes it is.
Before accepting a final bid or engaging the contractor, it’s wise to do as much background checking on them as possible.
People search for contractors in all kinds of ways; here are some.
Licenses and Registrations
Working with an unlicensed contractor could be costly in the long run. Always check their building licenses and registration. They should provide these details at the time of giving a quote.
The information can be double-checked on government websites. They’re usually state-based for contractors.
If, for any reason, they can’t be located online or the information provided doesn’t match what’s found, this is the time to ask questions.
A contractor that promotes themselves online is likely to be more trustworthy than one who doesn’t. In addition, having an online profile, especially one that allows comments, exhibits transparency.
Social media profiles, constantly updated with images of the contractor’s work, can be an indicator of their quality.
If they have no online presence, it begs the question, ‘What are they hiding?’
Find out what others have said about their work. There are numerous review sites available to check what people have to say.
The Better Business Bureau compares and assesses all types of companies, including contractors, against its best practices for customer service. Organizations are ranked from A+–F. Customer reviews and complaints determine the rankings. The site is unbiased.
Yelp has been active for almost 20 years. In that time, it amassed a massive database of reviews on all sorts of businesses. Savvy operators will create a Yelp profile for customers to add their comments. If the contractor has a Yelp profile, they’re willing to open themselves up for all manner of reviews.
Of course, there are ways to manipulate reviews. For example, dodgy operators may ask family members and friends to post glowing commendations for work they never did.
Also, take some highly negative comments with a grain of salt — unless they’re the majority. More negative than positive should set off red flags.
If almost all the reviews are positive with the occasional negatives thrown in, dig deeper to discover what’s being said. Some people just like to complain. Remember, negative reviews show balance; they’re not necessarily bad.
Investigate the Individuals
Doing a people search on the contracting company and individuals involved is one of the checks to do. The second check is of the individuals doing the work.
Ask for the full names of the people who’ll be working on the job site.
Checks for these people should be done on:
The quickest and easiest way to search for somebody is via Google. It could turn up interesting facts about them.
For example, are there any news stories about these people that might be a cause for concern? Alternatively, are there positive stories that paint them in an excellent light?
Do they have an online social media presence, and does it portray them positively or negatively?
Check to see if their profile is linked to their contracting work or is only personal information.
Scroll through their posts. Are there photographs of poor behavior that could suggest the person isn’t reliable or trustworthy? A professional is less likely to put something online that could make clothes question their character.
Business sites like LinkedIn aren’t just for corporate professionals. Building contractors appear there too. So it’s worth checking both the company and the individual on this site.
Information like years in operation and the time the contractor has been with the company are valuable pieces of data. Check prior employment, too, especially the duration. If they’re a constant job-hopper, it may mean their work quality isn’t up to standard.
To Hire or Not to Hire?
A contractor who wants to be hired will be highly transparent online.
Check that they’re licensed and registered in your state and that the information matches what’s been provided.
Look for social proof and reviews from mostly happy clients.
Don’t just stop at the company search stage. Instead, investigate the individual contractors who’ll be doing the work, as they’re the ones you’ll be in contact with.
If any red flags appear during the searches, don’t immediately give up. Ask questions and see if they can be explained away.
Walk away if the negatives outway the positives. The money being saved initially may mean nothing if the project fails.