Finding a good contractor for your outside home renovations is something that everyone will face at some point or another. It might be new windows that need installing, a deck, a new roof, or even the addition of a nice set of French doors. Finding a bad one is easy, but finding a good one can be more difficult.
You can look at a website that specializes in promoting contractors across the country and find one in your area. Some contractors also advertise their services in local newspapers. The problem with hiring a contractor in this way, however, is that while there are good general contractors who advertise their services this way, there are some unscrupulous types, too. You also need to be wary of any website that requires you to answer a few general questions and then insert a phone number and e-mail address with promises that someone will get back to you soon. These websites are often set up to get your personal information, which they then sell to other sites. Make sure that the site you use is reputable and has contractors available in your area.
A better option is to ask your friends, relatives and neighbors for referrals. If you see a project taking place at a neighbor's house, ask them later how they felt about the service - price, length of time it took to complete, general happiness with the finished product, etc.
Once you've obtained a list of references and referrals, start making calls. Check to ensure that each potential contractor is licensed with the state and carries insurance. You should also ask how long they estimate the project will take and whether they ever send work to other contractors. Some contractors will accept the job but hire general laborers to do the actual work. You will have no way of knowing who is doing the work on your house or the quality of work they complete.
Don't be hesitant to ask for references from potential contractors and to call each one and ask specific questions. This can help you narrow the list down even further. After you've narrowed your list, ask for formal bids / estimates for the job, and get each quote in writing. Avoid contractors who sell their services door to door or offer you a discount for finding them more customers.
Above all, make sure your contractor has a reputation for completing good work. This is the truest sign of a professional.
By Jennifer Eblin