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Whether you are embarking on a home improvement project or you are stuck in a middle of one, browsing yellow pages for a tradesman to do the tricky part has its benefits and downsides. The economy has forced the professional contractors to be more attentive to clients’ wishes, and yet many reputable contractors are cautious of dishonest clients.

And while not many of them are still doing competitive bids, they are aware that today not many clients are ready to offer a superbly-paying job. The circumstances have changed and you need to learn to swim again if you want the best from your contractors.

Look for contractors online

Now when almost everyone has more Facebook connections in their lists than people they met in person, finding recommendation for a contractors in your area is easier than ever. Nation-wide home improvement websites like Houzz, HomeAdvisor, ThisOldHouse and BH&G also offer contractor search prompts where you can find a local professional for all sorts of home improvement jobs. Municipal agencies or government community sites often have lists of local contractors.

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Friend of a friend

If you are more likely to trust someone you know in person, ask among your family and friends, or even work colleagues if they can recommend someone. People have their roofs retiled, windows refitted and floors redone all the time, and there will always be someone willing to recommend a proper contractor. You can expand your search by asking the people from your church, community group or club if they are willing to give five stars to professionals who did their home improvement projects.

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Ask professionals about professionals

One of the best ways to find the right contractor is to ask the realtor who helped you purchase the property in the first placer, or the one who is helping you get rid of it. In their field of work they meet many professionals with references who they can recommend any time. Ask your relator which contractors are honest and which ones you better avoid. In order to keep their reputation pristine, they will surely recommend a contractor who knows his job.

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Should you check contractor’s credentials?

Once you have come up with a few companies with recommendations, you need to check their licences and bonds. Depending from the locality, most of contractors need to have their surety bonds valid, as well as to be registered with the local government body. You can easily check their status and credential with the Small Business Association and Better Business Bureau. Apart from their rating, there you can also see if anyone has made a complaint about their services. Proper contractors have nothing to hide and will readily share all their legal information.

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Think twice about the lowest bidders

This is where you have to make a choice – do you want the best work or the best price? More expensive contractors and subcontractors who charge more have their licences and insurances to cover. They will also to the extra mile and keep you informed about the work’s progress. Although he might seem like a budget-friendly option, that lowest-bid guy might justify his price by employing unqualified labour. By hiring a professional contractor who is an expert of his trade, you will be doing you and your house a service.

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What to ask a contractor?

After you have singled out individual contractors, arrange a meeting and ask if they had experience with projects like the one you have in mind. Say that you would like to know their approach to work, how long it will take them to finish and most importantly, how much will it cost. This meeting is a good opportunity for you to decide whether you will get along with them nicely or not. If you cannot find the same page, you might consider finding someone else. Ask them to allow you to visit them at work at another client’s home. There you’ll see how they treat the client’s property, who they hire to do the heavy lifting, etc.

A good experience with a contractors begins with finding good recommendations. Check their credentials on government business resources, along with their licences and permits. Finally, talk to them in person to set the terms and asses their professionalism.

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