Updated: Jan 26, 2021
Here Are 9 Ways You Can Find a Great Contractor For Your Renovation Project
Let’s be honest. Contractors have a bad reputation. Many homeowners have concerns about whether they’re working with a legit contractor or someone who wants to scam them and runoff.
I once heard a story about how a homeowner hired a contractor to do a $60,000 job. Everything seemed on the up and up:
All of their paperwork checked out.
They allegedly had licenses.
They said all the right things.
The homeowner paid the contractor the full $60,000 upfront, and the contractor was never heard from again.
I, too, hired a contractor who consistently lied to me telling me work was completed; meanwhile, it wasn’t. Most of what they did was cover up stuff up, hide it, and lie about it.
I didn’t lose $60,000, but I lost enough.
I’m going to teach you how you can find a great contractor, and how to properly pay your contractors so you can avoid the fate of many unfortunate homeowners out there.
Yelp is a great way to look for local contractors who have already been used by other residents in your city.
When looking for contractors on Yelp, thoroughly read all of the reviews. Check to see if people mention the following:
They showed up on time.
They listened to your needs.
They came in on budget.
They fixed any issues without giving you a hard time.
If the contractor you’re looking for has mostly positive reviews, and one bad one that trashes them, maybe they had a bad day. No one is perfect.
Contractors with mostly negative reviews should be avoided. And contractors with no reviews, well, use them at your own risk! Someone has to be the first to try them out, right?
Yelp does not allow businesses to remove reviews and discourages business owners from soliciting reviews of any kind.
Let’s take a look at searching for Contractors directly on Yelp.
When you go to www.yelp.com, you’ll see a search box like the one in the photo below.
Put “Contractors” and your city.
After you search, Yelp will pull all the results for contractors in your area.
The first several results or so will be sponsored meaning, the owner of the company is paying to have their ad placed at the top of the search results.
After the sponsored section, the organic results are displayed. The organic results are contractors who have earned the top spots on Yelp naturally without paid advertising, and might be a good bet for you to call up!
Be aware though, the highest-ranked contractors are likely to be heavily booked and more expensive.
Facebook is another excellent place to look for contractors online. Like Yelp, Facebook provides a list of local contractors in your area, and Facebook will also let you know if anyone in your city recommends certain contractors.
First, of course, you’ll have to make sure you’re logged in to Facebook.
Once you’re logged in to Facebook, type:
Contractors, “your city, your state.”
Then be sure to select the pages tab at the top. Once you’ve completed your search and selected pages, you’ll get a list of contractors in your area. Right off the bat, you can see if the contractors that are pulled up have any likes or not.
Once you find a contractor you’re interested in, click on their icon to pull up additional information. In this photo, for example, you can see what services this contractor offers, and you can see they have a few recommendations from others who have used them.
The more recommendations, the better!
A word of caution when using Facebook for locating contractors:
Sometimes, I find Facebook will return ridiculous results. I've had Facebook return car dealerships when searching for contractors, which makes no sense!
And I've had Facebook return contractors that are located seven states away from where I searched.
Why? I don't know why, but it happens.
Make sure you double-check the contractor is local to you and has recommendations, and you should be able to find a good one on Facebook.
Pro Tip: You can also try searching for other terms, such as "home remodelers," to find good contractors.
Thumbtack is another great place you can look for contractors. Thumbtack offers a similar experience to Yelp too, so, if you're used to Yelp, you'll be right at home here.
First, you'll have to go to www.thumbtack.com.
Once you get there, you'll see a simple search bar, like in the photo below.
Insert what you're looking for in the search bar and the zip code you need it in. In the above example, I'm searching for Home remodelers in 94587.
Hit search, and you'll be given plenty of results to choose from. Below, you can see an example of how the results are returned.
You'll be able to see how long the contractor has been in business, how many times they have been hired through Thumbtack, and if they typically respond quickly to inquiries.
If you're interested in learning more about the contractor, click to view their profile.
When you click to view a contractor's profile, you'll see a few options.
You can learn more about them.
View their photos.
Check out reviews.
Review their credentials.
And look at any FAQ's the contractor has provided.
Thumbtack can also let you know if:
The contractor has a verified license.
And if the contractor has passed a background check.
If you like everything you see, you can request a quote right from Thumbtack.
How easy is that?
Additionally, Thumbtack offers you a guarantee of up to $2,500 for shoddy work performed by a contractor hired through the platform.
4. Angie's List
Angie's List is another online directory where you can look for good contractors. Let's get started.
Head to www.angieslist.com
You'll see a typical homepage that allows you to search for contractors near you, like in the image below.
I decided to search for home remodelers for this example.
After you hit find pros, you'll be taken to the next screen to narrow your search. You can type into the bar what you're looking for, or you can select a service you need from the "Popular Service" list towards the bottom of the page. You can view the photo below for reference.
I selected the "Additions & Remodels" service, and it brings you here:
Select the service you need; I chose Bathroom Remodel for this example, and then Angie's List will prompt you with a few more questions to help get you to the best professionals in your area.
Answer the questions as accurately as possible, as this will help you connect with the best contractor for the job.
Once you get through all of the questions, Angie's List will provide you a selection of contractors to choose from.
5. Craigslist Labor Section
Craigslist can be another great way to find a contractor, but I will give you a word of caution. Craigslist does not have reviews nor does it vet the contractors that advertise themselves on there in any way.
You are on your own on Craigslist, so I would consider this a little more of an advanced method of finding a contractor, simply because of the lack of information you have on them.
With that being said, you can still find a great contractor in the "Labor/move" section, as you see below.
Go to www.craigslist.com, and it'll be right there on the home page.
6. Google Maps
The last online resource I have for you to find contractors is, of course, Google.
Google "Contractors near me" and Google will provide a list of local contractors for you to choose from.
Google will take into account things like proximity to you and how highly rated the contractor is to determine the best results for you.
As you can see below, you can view where the contractor is located, see any reviews anyone may have left them, get directions to them, call them, or visit their website.
That wraps up how you can search for contractors online, so now let's check out a few old fashion ways you can find a reliable contractor offline.
7. Ask Your Friends & Family
There are so many online resources you can take advantage of to find a top-notch contractor today; however, sometimes, a good old fashion referral can provide the best results.
Have any of your friends or family recently completed a home renovation project? Ask around! If anyone you know completed some home renovations, they may have a contractor they'd be happy to refer to you.
Or maybe they had a terrible experience with whoever they hired, and you at least know who to stay away from.
Hey, they can't all be winners!
8. Ask Your Realtor
Are you doing these renovations to sell your house? If so, you may be working with a realtor.
Ask your realtor if they know any contractors who they have worked with in the past.
Or you can ask if any of their clients previously worked with a contractor they would recommend.
An excellent realtor should be heavily networked in their area, so they may very well have a recommendation on hand for you to take advantage of.
9. Go To Home Depot or Lowe's Early in The Morning
Here's an exciting way to find a contractor I bet you haven't heard of.
Go to your local Home Depot or Lowe's and ask if they know any contractors they would recommend.
They may not be able to recommend anyone to you due to liability issues personally, and if that's the case, spend some time hanging out around the contractor pick up section.
You may strike gold if you're there early in the morning, and you see a contractor pull up in pickup truck meant for hauling materials.
Go strike up a conversation and tell them what you're looking to do. Who doesn't love when people randomly walk up to them and offer them more business?
How To Pay Your Contractors
Never, ever, ever, in a million years should you ever pay your contractor in full at the start of a project. You should always pay them on a progressive payment schedule.
What exactly is a progressive payment schedule? Simple.
You pay your contractors as work is completed.
When the demo work is done, pay them for the demo work.
When the bathroom remodel is complete, pay them for the bathroom remodel.
When the tile floors are fully installed, pay them for the tile floors.
Before you release a payment, always make sure to verify the work was completed correctly. You can work with your contractor to set up specific milestones during the project that payments will be released.
How Many Bids Should You Get?
I always recommend getting at least three bids on your job. Getting multiple bids on a project will cause a bit of healthy competition.
If you tell a contractor they are the only one bidding a job, they will have no reason to give you their best price. They could easily mark you up, and if you know nothing about construction costs, you'll have no idea.
The contractor may tell you you're getting a fantastic price, but how do you know?
You won't know unless you get multiple bids and compare them carefully.
Always be sure to get at least three fully itemized bids so you can make sure you're getting charged a fair market price for your job.
What Questions Should You Ask Your Contractors Before Hiring Them
Before hiring a contractor, it's essential to ask them these critical questions:
How long will it take you to place a bid?
It should not take contractors all that long to place a bid. Five business days is the longest I'll give a contractor to submit a proposal. I usually like contractors to have their bid in two days after viewing the job.
Are you licensed?
It's essential to make sure you're working with licensed professionals. Jimmy off the street who thinks he can change a leaky pipe won't cut it!
Here's a list of critical licenses contractors can carry:
General contractor's license.
Home Remodelers license.
This list is not exhaustive, but the above three are the most common I look for.
Do you have insurance?
Make sure your contractors carry insurance. If something gets damaged by their work, you want their insurance to cover it.
Are you bonded?
Bonding helps protect you if a contractor fails to complete work, fails to pull permits, or fails to pay subcontractors they used on the job.
Do you have workman's compensation insurance?
Workman's compensation insurance is there to pay out a worker if they get hurt on the job. Make sure your contractors carry their own workman's compensation insurance or an exemption.
Will you pull permits and set up necessary inspections?
As the homeowner, either you can pull any necessary permits for your job, or the contractors can. Typically, I like to let the contractors do it.
The average timeline to complete "insert your job"?
It's essential to ask contractors how long they expect the job to take. During the project, be sure to hold them to their word.
Are you okay with a progressive pay schedule?
A progressive pay schedule is the only way you should pay your contractors. As we discussed above, a progressive pay schedule manes you pay in increments for the work that is completed.
Will I have a dedicated team working on my project?
This question will inform you of the contractor's dedication to your project. Will they be focused on your project 100%? Or will they be jumping back and forth between several other projects?
In my experience, you don't want them jumping back and forth between projects.
All that movement will slow things down!
How frequently will you update me on the project's progress?
The more frequently, the better. Make sure your contractors are regularly updating you on the progress of the project, then make sure you verify every word they say.
How many projects have you completed in the past 12 months?
This question will help you gauge how busy they are.
How many projects are you working on right now?
This question will help you figure out if they will prioritize you or not. You want to be your contractor's priority, not some side project on the back burner.
What steps do you take to ensure your crew and my property are safe?
This is a critical question. Make sure your contractors take the property steps to ensure a safe workspace. For example, will they leave all their tools on the job site? Will they be sure everything is locked up for the day once they're done?
Do you use subcontractors?
Subcontractors are other independent contractors your main contractor can give work too. For example, if your primary contractor and their crew can't do tile, they may sub out tile work to a subcontractor.
Can you send me references?
Make sure you have your contractors send you references you can personally call and speak with. Online reviews are great and all, but take this extra step to make sure you're working with a great contractor.
Will you fully itemize your bid?
You must get an itemized bid from your contractor.
What's an itemized bid? Here's an example:
$30,000 for everything
$5,000 for countertops installed.
$5,000 for tile flooring installed in the kitchen and bathrooms.
$5,000 for appliances installed
$5,000 for sheetrock hung, finished, and prepped for painting.
$20,000 in total.
Never let a contractor give you a bulk bid. Bulk bids can allow them to hide expensive Items and make it harder for you to ask questions about cost.
Itemizing also makes it easy for you to pay using the progressive pay model we discussed above.
What's the average you charge for "insert your job"?
You should always collect at least three bids for your job. Asking contractors to estimate what your project may cost will help you feel out how much money the job will cost you before you even get started.
If the contractor has done a lot of work in the best, they should have a rough estimate.
Sound Like A Lot of Work?
Finding a great contractor is certainly a lot of work. But it can be done.
Maybe you need a contractor to do some remodeling before trying to sell your house. But what if you didn't have to do all that?
If you don't want to do all that work, the good news is you don't have to.
Selling to a direct home buyer like Contenza Properties may be the right option for you. When you sell to a direct home buyer like Contenza Properties, you cut out all the typical hassles that come with selling traditionally. You won't have to:
Do any repairs.
Pay us any commissions or fees.
And you can get an offer quickly.
If you're looking to sell your house fast and don't want the hassle, contact Contenza Properties today!
When you sell directly to Contenza, you'll also get $1,000 cashback at closing.
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About the Author
Jordan Reid founded Contenza Properties in April of 2018 to help homeowners solve their real estate problems quickly.
Since then, Jordan has helped multiple homeowners facing difficult situations such as divorce, property liens, and unwanted property inheritance.
Jordan believes in putting people first, and numbers second, which helps him reach the best possible solutions for the homeowners he works with.