Handymen, Contractors and You: How To Hire Effectively

When you hire a contractor, you’re taking a risk. There’s no way around it. The question therefore isn’t about eliminating the risk, rather in making it as calculated and as well thought out a risk as you possibly can.

You’ve read a number of articles on what to ask when you’re hiring a contractor that goes into the nitty gritty. But, what do you do when the contractor, or handyman, in question is a member of your own family?

Homeowner and home remodeler Blake Fields tells the story here …


The family handyman, let’s call him Bill, promised he could gut my 1970s-era guest bathroom and bring it up to speed in two weeks, on the cheap. I should’ve known better, but after six weeks of work, I had a bathroom still in shambles and a planned dinner party looming.

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After a somewhat awkward discussion, Bill begrudgingly agreed the bathroom work was probably more suited to a professional contractor.

Although there was a lot to think about when choosing someone to breathe some life back into Bills failed project, there are plenty of qualified NYC contractors ; to choose from.

But for every punctual, well-trained, reliable contractor, I know there are probably upwards of six that are just the opposite—Bill included, unfortunately. I wanted my guest bath back in working order as soon as possible, but letting frustration, disappointment and anger cloud my judgment wasn’t an option.

Here are a few tips I learned to help sort the good contractors from the bad.

Contractors should be professional in every aspect of the project

From phone calls, to presentation and appearance, to bids, estimates and handling transactions, the contractor should clearly exhibit that he’s done this all before — and done it well.

Contractors should have a proven track record of success

Check online. Ask around. I loved my friend Marge’s bathroom, so I asked her what contractor she used. (He was booked and out of my price range, but it didn’t hurt to check him out.) Before hiring and paying, do a background check to make sure the company is licensed, insured and has provided excellent customer service numerous times before.

Use your head when you hire

Goods and services cost money. Quality goods and services cost more money. After identifying a qualified contractor, make sure you review the terms and conditions. Read the paperwork; know how to get out of a contract if you really must; talk about how and when payments are expected; get receipts; keep track of dates, and make sure you’re pleased with the result BEFORE paying in full. When you get a bid, ask what’s included, how the price breaks down, etc.

My bathroom now has a soothing, stylish finishes where I once had orange cabinets and peculiar green tile, and even the infamous Bill agrees it looks amazing! When he suggested making some changes to the kitchen to tie everything together, I managed to smile politely and tell him my contractor would probably be able to handle that, no sweat.


Thanks, Blake!

Blake Field has worked on 15 remodeling projects in the past two years.  He’s beginning to wonder: is this his job now?



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