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How To Find a Trustworthy Contractor

Updated on July 30, 2012

I know a good, trustworthy contractor who has been in the business for over 40 years. He has built houses from the ground up. He has done simple jobs such as installing a new door or a new kitchen faucet, and he has done more complex jobs such as building apartments and office buildings. On many occasions, he has had to fix someone else’s work and he has heard many stories that start with “They took my money and ran.” It’s sad but true, not everyone is honest.

I’ve put together some advice on how to find a trustworthy contractor. Hopefully, these tips will help at least one person through the process.

One of the first things I would suggest is to look online for companies that have websites with consumer ratings available. This is basically the Internet’s ‘word of mouth.’ If the contractor has one bad rating and ten good one, he’s probably going to be okay. If he has ten bad ratings, chances are, her cannot be trusted.

Be prepared to do some research to be sure you find an honest contractor. Don’t hold back when you do your research, use all resources that are out there. Check Angie’s List and the Better Business Bureau and look for any local blogs or forums concerning contractors and scams.

Also, ask friends and family if they know anyone reputable. Make a list of questions you want to ask so when you find the right person or company, you’ll be prepared.

When you find someone you think will be a good fit for your project, check out the company. Here are some important things to keep in mind when researching:

· Does he have a license and insurance?

· Does he respond to your initial call in a timely manner?

· Call his references and always be sure to talk to someone even if it means making a second call.

· Does he have an ad in the phone book? If he does, this is usually a pretty good sign that he is stable.

· Does he have a local reputation with other businesses? Keep in mind, his residential references could possibly be his friends or family and they may be willing to tall a fib or two to make him sound amazing. If you can check commercial references, then you stand more of a chance of getting true information.

· Does he do quality work? Ask this question whenever you speak to any of his references. It wouldn’t hurt to ask him if he has a portfolio, or something similar, that displays his work.

· Does he have a permanent place of business or does he operate out of his truck? Get the address of his office and go there and check it out.

· Does he have his own equipment? A contractor who asks to borrow your tools isn’t a real contractor.

· Does he offer a written guarantee?

· Does he finish his work in a timely manner?

· Make sure he is aware of the laws concerning building permits.

In addition, learn the trade lingo so you’ll know exactly what he’s talking about. Make sure he understands exactly what you want done. Be specific with your instructions. Write it down and keep an original, this will insure you don’t forget to ask any important questions. Don’t hesitate to ask anything at all, it’s your money and you have every right to know if he is legitimate.

Hiring a contractor will often involve several sub-contractors to do work that may require special licenses or permits. After you’ve done your research and hired your main man, you’ll want to know all you can about his sub-contractors too. Ask your contractor who he plans to use for each part of the project. Use the same basic criteria you did in your previous research.

Make sure all sub-contractors are aware of the permits needed for the job. Someone who isn’t legitimate may try to get by with using residential permits, which are a lot cheaper, for a commercial job, which could fall back on you in the future.

Only a licensed electrician should do any electrical work. This is one area that you need someone of outstanding reputation who does quality work. You certainly don’t want a fly-by-night guy who’ll do a messy job and leave you with a dangerous situation to deal with.

There are many good, honest contractors in every town and if you do your research, I’m certain you’ll find the best one for your job.


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    • lindalou1963 profile image

      Linda 5 years ago from Texas

      A referral service is a wonderful idea! I've never had to personally search for a contractor so in writing my article, I didn't actually go online to find one. Your suggestion is a great addition to my hub and I appreciate you adding it. And thanks for reading!

    • profile image

      Donald Dunkin 5 years ago

      Excellent article lindalou... What is your opinion about referral services? I recently used a company called Contractor Connection ( to help me find a contractor and had a great experience.

      They sent me profiles on some of the "best" contractors in my neighborhood, collected a bunch of estimates for me, and even negotiated the pricing with the contractors.

      It was nice for me because they saved me time by eliminating most of the legwork, and I needed the recommendations. I don't like working with strangers, and that's exactly what would have happened if I tried using the yellow pages or something.

    • lindalou1963 profile image

      Linda 5 years ago from Texas

      You're welcome!! I hope it does come in handy!

    • josh3418 profile image

      Joshua Zerbini 5 years ago from Pennsylvania


      Very informative hub! I am renting a house right now, but once I need to leave this information will become very useful. Thanks for sharing Linda!

    • lindalou1963 profile image

      Linda 5 years ago from Texas

      I hate the way crooked people take advantage of others, especially the elderly. My boyfriend is the contractor I mention in this article and the scammers out there give contractors a bad reputation. Of course I know my guy is as honest as a summer day is long, but someone hiring a contractor won't know that! They'll have to research and check references.

    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 5 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      No kidding, lindalou! When we were living in Florida, we heard stories on the news at least once a month about someone being taken for large amounts of money from crooks trying to pass themselves off as contractors. It was very sad and they could have used this helpful info!

    • lindalou1963 profile image

      Linda 5 years ago from Texas

      Thank you T! I hope this article can be helpful to someone. We're not all lucky enough to have a contractor just a phone call away.

    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 5 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      Very helpful advice on how to go about finding a reputable contractor, lindalou! Lots of good information. VUMS.