If you’ve taken on any home repairs or remodeling projects lately, then you’re aware that knowing how to find a good general contractor can be the most important step. There’s certainly no shortage of people in the home repair industry in Hawaii — handymen, general contractors, roofers, painters, etc. — looking for work right now.
However, in real estate as with any industry, there are both good and, uh, ‘less than good’ workers out there. Professional and less than professional. Talk to anyone in the industry and they’ll give you their share of horror stories as well as remodeling successes.
Just within the past year, we’ve “screened out” both a contractor and handyman that we won’t be working with again. We also found a general contractor who did a wonderful job on our Moanalua house renovation (available for sale now!).
How to Find a Good General Contractor
So how do you find the good workers out there? Here are the top 5 ways to finding your next contractor:
1. Ask for credentials. How many similar jobs have they done? What scope of work were these jobs? If you’re remodeling a kitchen, make sure he has a history of such work.
2. Play detective. Check the BBB for any recent complaints and how they were resolved. Try a simple Google search. Check out sites like Angie’s List or Yelp. There’s a lot of free information out there.
3. Ask for referrals. Don’t just take their word that they can add an addition to your house with all the proper electric and plumbing. Ask your friends, especially those in the industry like realtors or mortgage brokers. Ask the contractor for referrals of previous work. Follow up on these referrals. Yes, they will probably not share information on unhappy customers, but an unwillingness to give any referrals should be a big red flag.
4. Visit recent work. This is a big one that most people won’t do but can be INCREDIBLY important. Ask for current or recent projects that you can visit. Sure, the homeowners of their most recent remodel may not want you walking through, but you’d be surprised. There’s no substitute for seeing their work with your own two eyes.
5. Start out small. Another method is to have them start on a small project, like painting the house, before moving on to a full home remodel. That will give you an idea on how they fare in regards to completing the proper work on time.
Stick to these items, do your proper diligence (like following up on those referrals!) and you’re on your way to getting the right contractor for the job!
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