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The Match Game: How to find a contractor in 8 easy steps

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Finding the perfect contractor is a bit like dating. You need to be able to trust the person you're with and even show them where you live. But do they understand you and your home improvement needs? Will they complement your likes and dislikes? Do they share your home vision?

You've probably wondered once after a home improvement project, "Why is it so hard to find a good contractor?" and the answer is – you and your contractor were just not the perfect fit.

That's why we put together this quick, step-by-step guide on how to find your contractor perfect match for your next remodel or home renovation. 

#1 – Get recommendations from friends and family 

Start with recommendations from your friends and family.

The easiest way to start your search is to phone (or text) a friend. Get references, and if possible, see the finished project in your friend's home to know the quality of the contractor's work. If none of your friends provide references, check out local recommendations on HomeAdvisor as a starting point.

Opt for a contractor that specializes in the type of work you want done. If you're looking to complete a bathroom remodel, look to hire home remodeling contractors and not professionals who focus on installing or servicing swimming pools. You can also choose a general contractor (who works with existing spaces and designs), a remodeling contractor (who specializes in structural changes and complete redesigns of a space) or a contractor who focuses on home additions (who focuses on new builds). 

You may be able to use a specialist, depending upon the project.

If your home improvement project is smaller and focused on a specific task – such as a new HVAC unit or a new bathtub – you might be able to choose a specialized contractor, such as an expert plumber. But if you're looking for a bigger project – like a kitchen remodel – then you'll need a general or remodeling contractor.

#2 – Google your potential contractors 

Read online reviews - and the replies.

Check online reviews, including those on Google and Yelp. Read what previous clients are saying about your potential contractors and more importantly, see how they respond.

Do they reply professionally? What you see online can give you a good indication of how these home improvement contractors work and how they treat their customers. 

#3 – Check to see that your contractor is licensed 

Depending upon the state you live, your general contractor may need to be licensed to complete certain projects and adhere to certain standards. In New Jersey, the Department of Consumer Affairs has an online database you can check to make sure your contractor holds the proper licenses and certifications.

Once you have a few prospects, it's time to play the Match Game.

#4 - Review three proposals for the job 

Review the proposals to see which best suits your project.

​Entertain at least three proposals for your home project. Also, read the proposals carefully. Some may include painting or other details. Others may not. You want to understand what each proposal is giving you for the estimate.

#5 – Get to know your contractor by asking questions  

Ask important questions before hiring your contractor.

Good contractors want you to ask questions, so you understand the extent of the project and they understand your expectations and requirements. Start by asking:

  • How will they complete the job?
  • How will they protect your home?
  • What is the project's timeframe?
  • What is the payment schedule?
  • What permits are needed, and who will procure them?
  • What insurance coverage do they have?

If you have any specific requirements, such as an ADA-compliant toilet, make sure to ask questions regarding these. You'll give the contractor more details, which will help them draft an accurate estimate, and you'll also know you're hiring the right contractor for your specific project.

#6 – Always ask for a copy of the contractor's insurance certificate 

Involve your insurance agent.

This is extremely important. Always ask for a copy of the contractor's insurance certificate. If the contractor has the proper coverage and makes a mistake during the project, the damage may be covered under the contractor's policy rather than your homeowner's insurance.

Learn more about why this is important from Michelle O'Connor of O'Connor Insurance Associates, Inc.

#7 – Remember to give your insurance agent a ring 

Contact your insurance agent to make sure your home is covered with the proper insurance prior to hiring any contractor. Also, forward the contractor's certificate of insurance to your agent. He/She can check to ensure the contractor's insurance is sufficient.

We recently spoke with Bobby Mascia of Green Ridge Wealth Planning, who experienced an issue with his home remodeling. The event would have been devastating if he hadn't spoken to his insurance professional. Watch Bobby's homeowner horror story now! 

#8 – Choose your perfect match 

After you've met with at least three contractors, completed due diligence, and know which professional will give you the best remodel or addition for the best price – choose your contractor.

Congratulations! It's time to get your home improvement project started, and you know it will be done right with the contractor of your dreams. 

Take your homeownership to the next level 

Know more about your home and its care.

If you're looking for a contractor, it means you care about your home and the people within it. It's time to take your homeownership to the next level with the vipHomeLink app. Our home management app provides you with personalized reminders and tailored recommendations for home maintenance. We also provide expert-backed vipTIPs with the information you need to keep your home maintained and Instagram-ready.

Know what to do and when to do it with vipHomeLink, available now for download on the App Store and Google Play. Subscribe today! 

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