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Old 12-18-2009, 03:22 PM   #1
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What do you look for in a Contractor?


I have seen quite a few different guidelines for homeowners in what they should look for when choosing a contractor.

I am interested to know what most regular homeowners are looking for in a contractor. Is it the price? Quality? Trust factor? The Warranty? Clean Cut? Clean Vehicles? Licensed? Insured?

I think majority of us know that a cheap price and quality are not found very often together on a project. Are most homeowners willing to sacrifice quality in order to gain a better price?

I know majority of you are DIY but I also know, just like me, there are some jobs that its just best to call the guys who are trained to do it.

Interested on hearing your replies. Thanks.
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Old 12-18-2009, 03:29 PM   #2
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What do you look for in a Contractor?


One that actually shows up & does what they say they will
Electrical job - redo Main feed (buried), new panel
Out of over a dozen that were supposed to show up I had about 6 that did
Out of that number none came back with an estimate
Several of these were from direct word of mouth referals
I had the trench already dug, measurements of the trench/wire needed
Approval from Building Inspector.....POCO.....

I had every single circuit labelled
Could not have been an easier job
They could do the whole job, I could assist, I'd PU sand if they wanted & bury the trench
All open as to what they wanted to do & quote
This was in '06 when it was busier

I went thru the same mess when trying to hire a plumber
Is it any wonder homeowners DIY ?
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Old 12-18-2009, 03:33 PM   #3
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What do you look for in a Contractor?


Dave thanks for quick reply while Im still searching around reading things on here. I guess one question I forgot to ask is where do you look for to find your contractor? Internet search, Craigslist, yellow pages, references?

Out of those dozen contractors, how many did you inform that you had 11 other guys coming out to look? No offense but I personally would think the homeowner is only looking for the cheapest price if they are calling a dozen contractors to all take a look at the same job. For that reason I would tell the homeowner that we charge for estimates in order for me to be able to gauge how serious you really are.

I believe miscommunication between a homeowner and contractor is the biggest problem there is between the two.
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Old 12-18-2009, 03:46 PM   #4
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What do you look for in a Contractor?


I kept calling people because no-one ever provided an estimate...ever
The 6 people that did show up never provided an estimate & never returned our follow up calls
It was over a 6 week period looking for someone, I was in no rush...they could schedule between other jobs, whenever they wanted to start
I wanted it done & the trench closed in....but I had no set timeline that they had to meet
I had everything detailed in a word document that needed to be done
It would have been the easiest quote ever

About 6 were from references from people we knew
I do not remember where we got the other 6 names from
Probably from the phone book, possibly Internet search
I've never looked on Craigslist for a contractor...never will
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Old 12-18-2009, 04:16 PM   #5
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What do you look for in a Contractor?


Wow thats something else. Those contractors must not have needed any work.
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Old 12-18-2009, 04:54 PM   #6
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What do you look for in a Contractor?


I'm interested in hearing what people have to say also.

Dave, sometimes it is hard to give a quote with so many variables. Maybe they didn't know what you expected from them. Still, though a dozen different people.....you should have gotten someone to understand what you wanted. It is irritating when someone won't even give you a quote. Like you said though, this was a few years ago when contractors could pass up more jobs because there was more out there. Maybe they didn't want the hassle.

I have found that most people pick a contractor on price. Our jobs are 95% referrals, but the others we have had were just price shoppers.
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Old 12-18-2009, 04:57 PM   #7
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What do you look for in a Contractor?


Thats why I asked MJW
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Old 12-18-2009, 05:03 PM   #8
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What do you look for in a Contractor?


Possibly, but I was simply trying to be accommadating
I wanted them to do everything......
The sand & gravel place is around the corner
They could schedule a delivery, but for me to PU is $20 a load
I actually had a load delivered....then went back for a PU truck full to top it off

I ended up doing the sand, burying the pipe
Plus I dug my trench for the sub run to the pool cabana
And another trench for 2 yard runs for my Christmas display
At the same time I backfilled around the new foundation
I wanted to contract this stuff out.....my son had just been born
I found after I did all this work that I had a broken rib...very painful

Building Inspector actually apologized that he could not (had not) let me do my own work after hearing what I went thru
But with SE they wanted a licensed electrician to sign off
I spent 3 days redoing the Main box after the mess the electrician left
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Old 12-18-2009, 05:11 PM   #9
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What do you look for in a Contractor?


I have been a contractor for 20 years, and there are many that give us a bad name. Word of mouth still is the best. It is increasingly difficult to base a decision on how a guy looks. In my town there is a guy looks like charles manson. But he has a good rep. You can also go to a local lumber store. They give recommendations, usually based on reputation and on where they pay their bills or not. Your municipal office will usually not tell you anything. Their supposed to be unbiased.
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Old 12-18-2009, 05:12 PM   #10
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What do you look for in a Contractor?


By the way, I live in wisconsin also.
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Old 12-18-2009, 08:36 PM   #11
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What do you look for in a Contractor?


I had a plan and money, ready to go. Interviewed 6 contractors on site. ALL said looks great, we will get the numbers together and get back soon. Not one came back with a quote! All were referrals with a good rep. It seems crazy, I hear similar comments all the time. I finally got it going, but it was a struggle. Don't know how to find a good one. I ended up doing a lot of the work myself. Did find a good electrician and a good plumber.

Maybe there are only 10% that are really good, and they can name their price and work as much as they want because of the demand.

I know this post doesn't help, but I hope to learn the answer to the question as well.
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Old 12-18-2009, 10:45 PM   #12
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What do you look for in a Contractor?


I have had good luck in finding folks via Craigslist. One has to check references and such of course. Doing your due diligence is always a must.

I ensure they know I am ready to have the work done - not just kicking tires.

If it works out I do, or hire, the grunt labor - digging trenches, lugging stuff, etc. and keep the skilled tradesman guy doing the stuff the skill is needed for. Cheaper to me and more attractive to the skilled tradesman.

I have experienced getting qoutes back as a problem as well. If the job is such that you can specify you will buy materials and they just have to quote on labor, it usually makes it quick and easy for them to do a price as they pretty much know the time and effort involved.

Last edited by vsheetz; 12-18-2009 at 10:48 PM.
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Old 12-21-2009, 10:57 AM   #13
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What do you look for in a Contractor?


Unfortunately my opinion comes from a continuing bad experience with a contractor. When I needed a contractor, I had several come out and give me quotes within a week. The one who stood out had good original customer service and that is who my hubby and I were leaning towards. Well in th end we ended up not needing a contractor and his customer service went right out the window. I found him online and regret it. I guess if I ever needed a contractor I would ask for recommendations from neighbors and friends.

I have found it to be true that one bad comment/referral is more effective than 10 good ones. Great customer service from beginning to end. Even if you don't get the job, they may call you in the future because your customer service stood out. Good Luck!
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