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Find a contractor: a hiring guide

Four necessary tips on how to find a contractor. Start your home improvement project today!

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Find a contractor today! Photo by DAngelo Favata Photography on Flickr.If you're planning to remodel your house or are on the brink of a major home improvement project, you will likely need to find a contractor to manage all aspects of your project.

Professional contractors are expected to fulfill their roles according to legally binding agreements between them and their clients.


Also called a project manager, a contractor can hire other workers. They can work with an architect or an interior designer to complete a job. 

There are many easy ways to find a contractor, including a simple search on the Internet. However, randomly browsing online can take more time, especially if you're not sure what to look for. Reply! can help you filter skilled contractors from fraudulent and unreliable ones.

Here are the qualities and requirements you should seek in a contractor before actually hiring one.

No. 1: Type of contracting work

Before you begin to search for a state-licensed contractor, identify the right type of contractor for your home renovation or remodeling project. General contractors usually supervise the project and hire subcontractors.

A specialty contractor, on the other hand, is trained to perform a single job, such as maintaining, repairing and installing HVAC, roofing, windows, flooring, patios, decks or pools. For instance, if you need a masonry contractor, you want to find a contractor who is licensed in that particular field.

Cooling / HVAC tip:

If hiring a cooling or HVAC contractor, they should do a walk through of your home in order to figure out the load calculation, examine your air ducts, and other areas. Once done, they should provide you with an itemized estimate for the job. The estimate should include such points as whether they will remove your old unit, what permits are needed, and if they'll properly test the installation afterward.

Get your 3 free HVAC estimates!

No. 2: Check the contractor's license

Most states and local governments require contractors to hold a license for the particular type of contracting work they do or for general contracting. A licensed contractor has fulfilled the state requirements and has passed the state's contractors licensed board.

Most states operate a website where consumers can check the license numbers of contractors and find other information about them.

For example, the California Contractors State License Board has a website where a consumer can look up a contractor's license or verify the information of a Home Improvement Salesperson by inputting the contractor's license number, HIS name or HIS business number.

Many state websites also provide guidelines on how to find a contractor in the state. 

Roofing tip:

Ask to see a copy of your roofing contractor's insurance. The last thing you want is to be liabel for a fall or similar and taken to court. A reliable contractor will be able to provide you with proof of liability coverage and worker's compensation.

Get your 4 free roofing estimates!

No. 3: Get consistent bids

Get at least three bids to ensure that the contractors are all in the same scope. Be wary of contractors who offer bargains that seem too good.

Once you've made your decision, make sure to put everything you've agreed upon in a written contract, including:

    • The work details.
    • Estimates for the project.
    • The terms of payment.
    • Who gets the necessary building permits.
    • The approximate duration of the project. 

No. 4: Seek recommendations

Turn to your relatives and social network for recommendations. Ask whether they have hired a contractor in the past, and if they were satisfied with his work.

Your closest friends, families and neighbors are the best sources of information, because they can give you an honest account. If they had a good experience with a certain contractor or company, you more than likely will too.

Siding tip:

Check the Better Business Bureau to see if any complaints have been filed or a similar local office in your area. Once you have secured a contractor, don't forget to read the contract carefully to ensure that both of you are on the same page. They should provide you with a clear schedule, which they may have to deviate from due to weather.

Get 4 free siding estimates!

Hiring a professional and licensed contractor is necessary to ensure the successful completion of your project. That is why it is essential to do your homework and find a contractor who meets your requirements.

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Photo credit: DAngelo Favata Photography via Compfight CC.