Knowing how to tell a good contractor from a bad one will save you money, time, and a whole lot of headaches. Our head of maintenance compiled his go-to list on how to know a contractor is worth your money.
They answer when you call.
It’s 2019, whether you like it or not we are all attached to our phones. There is no longer an excuse to be completely unreachable. There is nothing worse than calling a subcontractor with what seems to be an urgent matter only to get the message “this voicemail box is currently full and you cannot leave a message at this time.”
On the one hand it is difficult as a subcontractor to answer all your phone calls as they come in, but simply texting back something as simple as “sorry, I can’t talk right now, but I will call you as soon as I get a chance” goes as long as you call back as soon as you get a chance. Ghosting your clients is no longer acceptable, and good contractors know this little trick.
They show up on time.
In the same vein as number 1, there is no reason to be unreliable. Life happens and sometimes it is not possible to follow through on every commitment, BUT communication is key. If a contractor has set a meeting and flakes on the meeting with no communication, find a new contractor. If they can’t communicate about being late or needing to move a meeting, they will most definitely not be able to communicate through the process.
The first meetings are the first tests. Use them as a determining factor as to whether or not this contractor is capable of following through with their commitments or if they have the communication skills to not leave you in the dark.
Similarly, a good contractor will not only show up on time, but communicate when and where they’ll be working on your home.
You see the contractor on the job site.
As contractors, we want to maximize profits as much as everyone else. The way to do so is to be as many places at once as possible. We often hire employees to carry out the work while we supervise and manage the quality of the process. The only way to supervise and manage the quality of the process effectively is to check in on the progress frequently. You may not see them every day during the project, but I would say weekly is a minimum.
Their estimates/invoices are not whole numbers.
If you go to the grocery store with 100 items and the cashier says “that will be exactly $200” you would think “where did you get that number?!” a round number implies that the person rounded to get there, and nobody in this world is going to round down when it comes to business. When it comes to big projects we are dealing with big numbers. If the project is $47,324 where does it get rounded to? If your bill says $50,000 your contractor essentially took $2,676 unaccounted dollars from you. Be aware that a round number is a red flag implying that the contractor may not be able to be trusted.
They have a history of delivering a good finished product.
Obviously, this is the most important of them all. At the end of the day, who cares how well they have communicated if their finished product sucks. Many talented craftsmen are still in the business even though they are not good at 1-4 because they are so talented, but the best of the best are good at the whole process.