How to Find the Perfect Contractor!

Tips For Finding and Hiring the Perfect Contractor.

Finding and hiring a contractor that you trust can be a daunting task, here are a few tips to help ease the process.

With the advancement of the web in the last 10 years and such social media applications such as Face book, Twitter and You tube. We have almost an unlimited access to information. With that said, it’s becoming much easier to find the services we’re searching for and eliminate the good from the bad.Here’s a list of sources to help find quality contractors, remember not all of them are professionals but we’ll go over the screening process in a moment.

1) The Internet.

Google, Yahoo, or any other popular search engine will work. If you type the specific type of contractor you’re looking for, followed by your region you will find a list of contractors who provide that service. I.e. “Siding Contractors Halifax Nova Scotia.” Try to be direct and use short, to the point words or phrases for best results.

Online classified ad sites, such as Craigslist or Kijiji. These sites are often gold mines, you must use your better judgment here and sift through the ads a little more carefully, as these sites are usually free and don’t require any special qualifications to place an ad. The upside is that often you’ll find a company who is new in business who will offer great, sometimes better service then most and for a cheaper price. Make sure you background check thoroughly when looking on free classified ad sites.

Your local phone directories will most likely have an online site you can search as well, Yellow pages and Canada 411 for most of us in Canada.

2) Phone Directory

Yes, underneath that inch of dust is a book. Yes, they still exist. That book is most likely the Yellow Pages and it is chock full of ads for local businesses. Quite a few pages are dedicated to local contractors, there’s an abundance of us, but that’s an entire different story.The Yellow Pages have gone through a few changes and one of those changes is that they now present you with the largest ads first, instead of alphabetically. There are many different opinions on this method of advertisement and how to choose a company from the Yellow Pages. Don’t always assume companies with larger ads will charge more or companies with smaller ads are not as good. Some companies with large ads will go into debt paying massive fees for those large ads and may be on the brink of a financial crisis, whereas a company with smaller or less advertisement has funds freed up to support other areas of their business, customer service for example. Again, it boils down to doing your homework carefully and selecting a contractor who’s qualified, can fit your needs and has a good reputation.

3) Friends/Family/Neighbors

“Hey Joe, hey Sue, know where I can get my roof serviced?” “Yeah, call (Company name). They did ours and we’re very pleased”

Word of mouth referrals is where most of our business comes from, and what better way to find a contractor then through a referral from someone you trust?. I advise you still go through the screening process because what works for some may not work for others.

There are many options when it comes to finding us but those are the top 3.

“Okay, so now I have a list of potential people I would consider hiring, what next?”

Examples of qualities to look for in a company.

a) A well balanced company will have a list of satisfied customers who may provide you with reviews and answers to any questions you may have about the company. Believe it or not, a well established company will also have a list of people who haven’t been so happy with the services. Hey we can’t please everyone all of the time. That’s fine, it’s important that the company recognized the complaint and the issue was resolved in a timely, professional manner.

b) Do they have liability insurance?. We take every precaution necessary to ensure the safety of you, your property and our workers but sometimes accidents happen. It’s a rare occurrence and most of the time damage can be easily repaired by the company. If it’s major damage, you may be held accountable for the loss. A company that is serious about what they do will have adequate insurance coverage.

c) Do they have Workers Compensation? If an employee is injured on your property you can be held accountable for medical expenses, lawyer fees etc. There was a story I read the other day about a man who was running from the police. He ran on someone’s property, tripped, broke his leg, sued the homeowners and won. It’s a fine line homeowners walk…It’s ridiculous but it’s the law so make sure you and your contractor are covered.

d) How are the prices?. Make sure you get at least 4 bids. The lowest price isn’t always the best. It can often mean lack of experience in the industry and lack of overhead, maybe they don’t pay taxes, or don’t have proper insurance/equipment. A reputable company will charge adequately to cover their overhead expenses and even though the lowest price seems tempting, it usually leads to poor service and trouble down the road. You want a company who is going to be in business if a problem should ever arise. At the other end of the scales, higher doesn’t mean the best either. It could just mean that they have one of those over priced ads that they need to compensate for. Look for the company who falls in the middle of the price range.

e)We use our work vehicles everyday and it’s next to impossible to keep them clean and organized 100% of the time, BUT, If a company shows up and burger wrappers spew out of the doors when they open, generally have a “sloppy” image, chances are it’s a reflection of their work.

f) Pay attention to the tools they use, professionals will spend money on high quality equipment. Not saying cheap is bad because we can’t always afford the best of the best and trust me, there’s tools I would love to have, but just can’t justify spending the money on. For the most part though a serious company will have the proper tools to complete the job.

g) Are they friendly? Do they respect your property, your beliefs, your ethnicity or your gender? Do they mingle with your children, your family and your pets? Do they listen intuitively to your request, concerns, or questions? Do they provide you with adequate information about products, materials, warranties, schedules, delays, things to expect during the process? Etc. Do they make you feel at ease?

We will try our best to cover everything with you and usually we nail it, but we’re not perfect. We have our off days too, so here are a few more tips from us on things you can do to make our job easier and the entire process run a bit smoother.

1) Grass and leaves. It’s important to have grass cut short and leaves cleaned up in areas where we will be working. It’s easier for us to clean up our mess and make sure our magnets can pick up all metal objects such as, nails, screws, staples etc. These are dangerous for obvious reasons, nails in the foot are never fun for us and our fury friends.

2) While we’re on the topic of fury friends, pets can find it very stressful during renovation time. It’s best to remove them from the premise during work hours. If that’s not possible, placing pets in a carrier in the basement with a blanket over top will help ease the stress.

3) While working on your home we have equipment which draws electricity. Most times we plug into your outside electrical box. Sometimes we blow a fuse or trip a breaker, in the instance this happens it’s best to leave us access to your electrical panel so we may carry on. If that’s an issue for you we can usually have back up generators handy. If we use your power for any extended period of time, nine times out of ten we are more than happy to reimburse you. Sometimes we’re so busy with other things that we can over look the fact that we’ve added to your power bill. Please remind us if this happens! Just show us the difference and we’ll gladly pay it.

4) Before meeting with us, do as much homework on the subject as you can and prepare a list of your own questions, in case we miss something.

I hope this article has helped to enlighten you! Please feel free to comment, add your own advice or pass it along to friends and family.


David J Chernecki.