Top tips for hiring contractors

By Joanne Loos Posted in: ImproveThe Fix is In

Although I consider myself fairly independent, I’m not too proud to ask for help when I need it. I have come to appreciate that experts are experts in their field for a reason, and whether it’s getting help with school work or fixing things around the house, there are often others who can do it better than I can.

Choosing those people can be tricky. While friends, neighbors and even readers ask me for advice, it’s often hard to come up with who I think would work out best. The right person to fix my plumbing may not be the right person for someone else. There are many questions to consider, and the answers to those questions vary from person to person. If you are struggling to choose a handyperson, you may want to ask these questions first:

Whom do others recommend? Asking your friends, family and neighbors whom they have worked with previously always helps — even if they didn’t have a good experience. Ask what they wished they had done differently, what they liked best and what they didn’t like. This will help you to create a short list of potential contractors and of questions to ask them. You can also use online reviews, but be cautious. Just because someone worked out well for many others, does not mean they’ll work well with you, and vice versa.

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How will we get along? Once you come up with your short list, schedule interviews. Before you go on those interviews, think of what you need out of a contractor. Do you want someone who will help guide your decisions, or do you want someone to follow your orders? Personality should also factor in, especially for longer projects. If you don’t get along well, you’ll be less likely to trust him or her.

Is he/she qualified? When you talk to your potential contractors, find out these things at a minimum: Are they licensed, are they insured and how much experience do they have in what you need them for? You should also check with the Better Business Bureau to see if they have any outstanding complaints against them.

How much can I spend? Although price alone shouldn’t be your determining factor, it should still factor in. Try to come up with a ballpark number for your projects before consulting with your potential contractors. Don’t be shy or embarrassed to share your budget with them, and remember to factor in an extra 10 percent, just in case. This may result in setting your budget a bit lower.

Have a comment or question for Joanne? Email thefixisinhawaii@gmail.com.