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Contractors - How do you check to see if a contractor is good before you use them?

By
Real Estate Sales Representative with W.C. & A.N. Miller Realtors, a Long & Foster Co.

Let's face it... our homes require maintenance and we often can't do it all ourselves.  So you need a plumber, or an electrician, or a handyman -- a roofer, a carpet installer, a painter; how do you find a good one?  The saying "you get what you paid for" is generally true, but there are decent contractors who won't overcharge for their services.  Where can we find these invaluable people?

1.  Friends' Recommendations: The number 1 way to find a good contractor or service provider is through personal referrals.  Without a doubt, sites like Facebook and Twitter help us to easily query our network to ask for their recommendations.  In fact, advertisers are quickly catching on to this trend.  My son works with a hip advertising agency in L.A., and he's focused on this very thing.  Friends are happy to share their good experiences with a contractor.  Just be certain that they used their services within the last year or so.  Personnel at companies change over time.

2.  Websites:  I, personally, love www.AngiesList.com .  Although you have to pay for this service, I find it a wonderful resource.  Consumer's Check is another great site:  http://www.checkbook.org/ .  The gold standard for many years, Consumer Reports, has great suggestions on things like what questions to ask potential contractors:  http://web.consumerreports.org .

3. Your Favorite Realtor:  As a Realtor, I recommend contractors to clients all the time.  In working together to get their homes ready to sell, I put together a list of recommended repairs and updates which includes photos and recommendations for multiple contractors for each item.  Since my job involves continually prepping homes, I get the opportunity to use the services of lots of contractors who work on home maintenance and updates.  Also, real estate agents often share their favorite contractors with each other all the time.  I keep every email that another agents sends with their recommendations.  I use these to compile my list of favorte contractors.  Your favorite agent might just be a great resource for recommendations.  If you're local, just send me an email if you need my assistance.

4. Better Business Bureau:  Consumers are encouraged to file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau when they have a problem with a contractor.  You can search their site to research potential contractors at www.bbb.org .

5.  Lawsuit Filings:  In Maryland, you can go online to the state's website to search the list of court cases to see if a contractor/company has had any lawsuits filed against them recently.  Be sure to check the status of the suits, though.  Although there are unscrupulous contractors out there, there are also unreasonable consumers who file frivolous lawsuits. This site might be helpful:  http://casesearch.courts.state.md.us/inquiry/processDisclaimer.jis

6.  State Licensing Authorities:  In Maryland, you can check to see if a contractor is licensed by going to:  https://www.dllr.state.md.us/cgi-bin/ElectronicLicensing/OP_search/OP_search.cgi?calling_app=HIC::HIC_qselect

 What are your favorite sources for contractor recommendations?  What other websites do you use to research companies? 

Rob & Jeannie Steward - Realtors®
RE/MAX Advantage - Nashville, TN
We Work TWICE As Hard For You! - Ashton Group

Hi Colleen! Super great advice for everyone. We have always had great compliments for referring Potomac Restorations. We have even called them to work on our own home, and would again. They do great work, and Richard is a former Realtor which really helps you hammer home the need for new paint, carpet kitchens and baths, etc.

We had a difficult property in need of updating which was many days on the market. Although our advice fell on deaf ears, Richard and Don were able to speak with our sellers and express the need to tone down the home decor to a more neutral palate for home buyers in order to sell their home at top dollar. I believe the home was approximately 2300 finished square feet above grade, and Potomac Restorations came in and stripped rooms of wall paper, primed, painted and laid all new carpet within two days! That was one day after the on site estimate. Materials and labor came to around $8,300.  Web Link Below.....

Potomac Restorations ~  http://www.potomacr.com/

Aug 11, 2010 01:49 PM