Before you hire anyone to do a job in your home – whether it’s painting, electrical or remodeling – you probably ask around for referrals. If a friend or colleague gives you the name of a tradesman they used and liked, of course, you are more likely to call him. Friends and colleagues are also more likely to give you honest feedback about a contractor’s strengths and weaknesses.
Remodeling contractors get a good portion of their business from referrals, so it’s important to us to do a good job for all of our clients, because we never know where the next referral will surface. In addition, with today’s on-line communities, the reviews are a gold mine for those looking for specific characteristics in a contractor. People are willing to write all the details of their experiences – both good and bad.
If you’re reading reviews or asking for referrals, look for the things that are important to you to be able to effectively work with a contractor. Evaluate the client’s overall satisfaction with the job – both in terms of the product and the process. The finished product may be great, but what it took to get there may be more headache than you’re willing to tolerate. Look at whether or not the contractor held to a schedule, and whether or not the client felt there was “value for the dollar.” If you can ask questions, ask about the experience. Did the remodeling contractor work with the homeowner as part of a team? Did the homeowner feel like the contractor saw his or her “vision” and worked to attain that, making valuable suggestions along the way? What makes this contractor different from others? Things like returning phone calls, providing a clear and detailed estimate and flagging any issues immediately in a cooperative — not defensive — spirit are all important details that separate the good contractors from the mediocre. Rely on these reviews and referrals. And don’t hesitate to write or give your own, when your job is complete.