Tips and Tricks for Choosing a Contractor That’s Right for You

A helpful guide from Allied Construction Services in Montgomery, Alabama.

If you’re anything like most people, you may find the process of choosing a contractor challenging. Sure, a quick Google search brings up countless results, but how do you know which one is “the best”?

Well, there are a lot of good contractors out there, a few great ones, and unfortunately, some not-so-great ones. The best contractors are the ones who return calls and keep schedules, whose reviews are backed by reputation, those who don’t ask for money upfront, and those who are insured.

Below is a list of things to know about your working relationship with a contractor that will help you determine what is proper, professional behavior and what could be a sign of trouble.

Good Contractors Call You Back and They Don’t Break Dates

Customers face the problem of calling or otherwise reaching out to contractors who simply do not call them back. The problem is so bad it’s practically an epidemic, and many people will experience several contractors not calling them back at the same time. Our advice is simple: move on.

Their website may look great or a friend may have referred you to them, but if you aren’t getting a response, you already know what it will be like to work with them: there will be plenty of no-calls and no-shows in your future. Speaking of no-shows, contractors who don’t show up when they say they will is known to be a bit of a problem as well. However, scheduling conflicts happen from time to time and there really is such a thing as last-minute emergencies. This is normal and should be expected.

Tips and Tricks:

  • If you aren’t getting call-backs after a few days and multiple attempts, move onto another potential contractor. Keep moving on until you get the response—and respect—you deserve.
  • Understand that contractors can stay busy, but ones who show up when they say they will are golden.
  • If a problem of repeated “no-shows” develops, address the issue by speaking with the contractor about it. His response will tell you all you need to know about his work ethic.
  • Contractors generally have very busy schedules and are juggling limited crews and many job sites. Keep this in mind when working with contractors and scheduling visits and work. A busy contractor isn’t a sign of a “bad contractor”. On the contrary, the fact that they are in demand is a good sign.

Reviews and Reputation

A way many people decide which contractor to use is by reading reviews on websites. While this is a popular method, it’s important to remember a couple of facts:

It’s human nature to only talk about the bad.

How many times have you or has someone you know written a bad review or complained to a manager? Now compare that number to the number of times a manager was called to report good news. In nearly all cases, complaints far outweigh compliments. This is because if everything is going the way it’s supposed to, people don’t feel a need to say anything.

Consider both quality and quantity of complaints.

Don’t let one bad review turn you away from using a potential contractor unless that review contains information that is alarming and extremely out of the ordinary. On the other hand, if you notice several people all have the same complaint, no matter how big or small, it would be wise to consider the possibility that a consistent complaint is related to a consistent problem.

All good reviews may not always mean it’s “all good”.

Some contractors have an abundance of reviews, most of them positive. You should take the overwhelming praise with a grain of salt. We’ve already discussed how people are more likely to spread bad news more than good, so why does this contractor have primarily good reviews? Or rather, why does he have so many? There’s no foolproof way to know if a review is falsified and surely it isn’t always the case that a ton of good reviews is a sign of deception. You should read reviews thoroughly and take them all with a grain of salt then do what your gut tells you.

Reputation is your best indicator

When it’s all said and done, reputation through word-of-mouth referrals is usually your best bet. However, many people have gotten referrals before only to face the issue of not getting called back due to a busy schedule, etc. (see “Good Contractors Call You Back and They Don’t Break Dates” above). But more often than not, a great referral leads to a great working relationship. And the best contractors know that doing great work for the person to whom they were referred means they’ll get referred again and again.

More Tips and Tricks

  • Never give money to a contractor upfront. Professional contractors have credit to start a job and will invoice you for payment later.
  • Ask for verification of a contractor’s business license and certification of workman’s comp and general liability. It doesn’t cost a contractor to show you these pieces of paper. You’ll see he is a real businessman and can rest easy knowing these bases are covered.
  • Never hire a contractor who isn’t insured or you could foot the bill for accidents involving workers and your home.
  • Understand that when you hire a contractor, they are effectively your employee. The best contractors understand that doing a good job for you means they can pay their bills. Just make sure you show them the respect they deserve for the hard work they do in sometimes gruesome working conditions and you’ll be rewarded with quality service.
  • Not everyone is in the fortunate position of knowing someone who knows someone. Make sure to ask around and see if you have friends who have had positive—or negative—experiences with contractors in the past. Then conduct your own search and weigh the pros and cons of what you find.

Make sure to refer back to this guide as much as you need and if you have any questions, concerns, or contracting needs, reach out to Mike at Allied Construction Services in Montgomery, Alabama by calling 334-281-3001. You can also email Mike here.

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