Hiring A Contractor? Here’s What To Look For

Things to think about when selecting the company to hire for any work on or in your home

Deciding to start a home improvement project is an exciting experience that can increase the usability, enjoyment, and value of your home. Hiring the wrong contractor can quickly turn your dreams into a nightmare that will put your family and your wallet in danger.  Depending on your project, you could be starting on a journey full of electrical wiring, gas lines, and measuring. Hiring the proper help is crucial to completing your project in a safe and efficient manner, and knowing what to look for will save you time and money.

Proper Licensing

Just because a contractor claims to have experience does not mean they are legally capable. Ignoring a contractor’s licensing will end up being even more time consuming when the mistakes begin to rain from your ceiling or peel from your walls. The company should not be shy about providing you with a copy of their licensing and classification.  A licensed contractor may not be legally allowed to work on your single-family home if they hold a commercial classification.  Researching the licensing requirements of both your state and city can help determine what kind of contractor you need to hire.


In addition to hiring a contractor that is licensed, it is critical that they also be insured.  Many states require a contractor bond in order to be licensed. This bond ensures that the company complies with all laws and regulations while protecting the clients and employees from financial damages. It is essential that your contractor be covered by general liability insurance so as to protect yourself from any injuries incurred, damage to your property, or even a lawsuit. While no homeowner expects those possibilities to become a reality, accidents do happen. It is a major risk to hire a cheaper contractor without such coverage. You could quickly be thrown into debt when your contractor has no way to pay you for any damages they caused, even if ordered by law to do so.  

Remember that your contractor may hire subcontractors for specific parts of your project. They are also in charge of all legal aspects regarding those subcontractors.  This creates a heightened responsibility that makes it an absolute necessity for your contractor to be insured with general liability. The contractor you choose should also have workers compensation insurance in the event that an employee becomes sick or injured on the job.  A company without workers compensation insurance shows a high level of irresponsibility and lack of care for employees and clients. Should you choose to hire a contractor that is both unlicensed and uninsured, all potential injuries or damages faced by you, your property, a worker, or subcontractor employee will be yours to pay for.

Experience and Reliability

Never assume that a contractor capable of doing the work has the portfolio to back it up. A reliable contractor should have years of experience in their trade and will know how to properly handle each project. It is important to find someone you can trust not only with your home but with your wellbeing.  An unprofessional contractor will leave you in a panic when they ignore your concerns, are careless with your belongings, or decide to abandon your project half way through. Researching a company’s website can be a helpful tool in finding out how they do business. Find customer reviews, photos of past projects, a rating from the Better Business Bureau, and the number of years they’ve been in business. If you can’t seem to find this information about a contractor, consider steering clear. Never be shy about asking to see past or current projects and speak to a couple references!

Realistic Estimates for Proper Quality

Never compromise the safety of your home and family on a questionable contractor that offers you a lower price. While budgeting and financing are very important details when working with your contractor, finding a better deal will not always correlate with a better, safer home. If an estimate seems far lower than those given by other companies, there is most likely a good reason for it. A contractor could be unaware of the total costs necessary due to inexperience.  Even with experience, a contractor giving a questionably low estimate may use low-grade materials, hire unqualified subcontractors, or try to change the price and gradually increase your budget throughout the project. Low price estimates most always cause disputes between the client and contractor once the significance of the miscalculation is realized. This causes payment delays and increased production time.  Be wary of companies giving low estimates over the phone before having even viewed the project area. The pricing should not be certain until all specifications, customer needs, and various expenses are properly calculated.