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Hiring a professional contractor for a home improvement project can be challenging, and a bit scary too. Here are the basics to help you get started.

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Hiring a professional should be simple, right? When something goes wrong in your home, you go online, look at the phone book or talk to your neighbors about who you need to hire. However, sometimes your project is a little more complex, and finding a contractor gets complicated. The question becomes, what expert are you really looking for to help you with that project? Moreover, how do you know you’re hiring the right professional?

Match the right contractor to your project

You want to find a contractor who performs the work you need done on a regular basis. If you need pipes fixed underneath your sink or in the basement, it usually means hiring a plumber. If you need electrical wires installed or rewired in your home, that means getting an electrician out to your house.

What about those more complex projects, like building an addition or remodeling a kitchen? You’ll need more than just a general contractor to oversee the project. You’ll need a lot of subcontractors to do smaller projects too — projects like flooring, painting, appliance installation and so on. How do you know who is best for the job? General contractors can help recommend subcontractors for your team, but there are times you might want to find them on your own. What’s the best way to proceed?

Some of the most well-known methods include:

  • Researching ratings and reviews for recommendations
  • Asking neighbors and family whom they’ve hired in the past
  • Getting a list of subcontractors from the general contractor
  • Looking through a phone book

How to ensure it’s the right contractor

Once you’ve gone through one or two of these methods, then it’s time to ask these potential contractors a list of questions to ensure they’re right for your job. There are specific questions you should ask every type of contractor. These include:

  • How many years have you been in business?
  • Do you have workers compensation and liability insurance?
  • How will you approach this project?
  • How many similar projects have you completed?
  • May I see your list of references?
  • Are you certified?

Depending on how contractors answer these questions, you can narrow your list of potentials down to the top one or two. You should also take budget into account when choosing contractors, because you don’t want to spend too much on a project. It’s a balance between the cheapest contractor and one who overcharges for their services. Be sure to check their quote against the average cost for your project.

Doesn’t have to be a difficult process

Finding a contractor doesn’t have to be a difficult process. Depending on the project, it can be extremely simple — broken pipes; call a plumber. Or sometimes, it can take a bit longer if your project is more involved.

Luckily, there are a lot of resources at your disposal to help you research contractors and narrow your list down to those most qualified for your home improvement project. With some work and time, the end result is hiring a contractor who fits within your budget and is up to the project task.

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Andrea Davis

Andrea Davis is based in Denver, Colorado as an editor for HomeAdvisor. As a deeply engrossed fan of the written word in its many forms, she’s always looking to tell home improvement stories in a new light that both engages and entertains. She's a frequent and very welcome content contributor here on the BuildDirect Blog.