How to find a good contractor

I hear stories of people making a bad choice when they hire a contractor.  With so many  guys out there how do you know who to choose?  I wrote this short article to help narrow your decision.  If you follow my advice you stand a very good chance of hiring a competent and qualified contractor that will make your project go a lot smoother.  So here are 8 points to consider when hiring a hardwood flooring professional (or any other type of contractor)

Are they Legal?

The first thing you should check is if they are a legal company?  Do they have a valid business license and are they a registered contractor?  In the State of Washington every contractor has to be registered with the Department of Labor and Industries.  You can go to their website and see if the company you are looking to hire is actually registered.  I’ve heard too many stories of people finding someone on Craigslist, giving them a down payment check and then never seeing them again.  If someone is not working legally then you have very little recourse in the event something doesn’t go as planned.

It is very easy to get a WA State business license and to register as a contractor, there is no good excuse not to do it.  It is a start to show that you are serious about what you do.  It also begins to build trust.  Part of running a business is that you should play by the rules.  It’s just one form of accountability.

Do they pay taxes?

This one is a tough one.  I don’t know anybody that really enjoys paying taxes.  Taxes goes to the benefit of society though.  We enjoy a lot of conveniences that our tax dollars pay for and we all should pay our fair share.  If someone is willing to cheat the government and the community that tax dollars goes towards, how can you be sure that they won’t cheat you?

You can verify that a business is registered with the WA State Dept of Revenue.

References and referrals

Ask friends and family if they have had work done similar to what you want to have done and who did they use?  Were they completely satisfied?  This also will help you to know who to avoid.

Check online review sites such as Google, Yahoo, Bing, Houzz, Home Advisor and Angie’s List.  See what their customers have to say about them.  When you ask a company for references they will give you their best ones and it may be a bit skewed.  Online review sites allow a little more of an independent critique.

Affiliations

What trade affiliations do they belong to?  If they are passionate about their work they will want to be a part of a larger organization to better themselves and their field of expertise.

For hardwood flooring the main association is the NWFA, National Wood Flooring Association.  This organization sets the standards and guidelines for hardwood flooring.  They also offer extensive training and educational programs to produce better craftsmen.

Training

What type of training have they had?  How long have they been doing it?  You want someone who has been trained in newer technologies and in better ways of doing things.

The NWFA offers a degree program in hardwood flooring as well as an extensive certification process so a craftsman can be better equipped and knowledgable in the field.  You can search for a Certified Professional Installer, Sand and Finisher.

Know, Like, and Trust

You do business with people.  You are going to trade them your hard earned money for their services and time.  You should do business with people you know, like and trust.  If you’re just not comfortable with them don’t hire them.  You have to trust them because they will be in your home and you will be gone.  Spend some time with them on the phone and during the estimate.  Check them out online, use the resources of the internet to get a feel for them.  What does their website say about them?  How about their personal Facebook page or other social media venues?  Find someone you like.

Professionalism

Are they professional?  They don’t necessarily need to have the best, most slickest presentation but they should have some professionalism.  They are a business in the service industry.  They should have a professional designed website that is useful and informative not something that looks like it was thrown together.  They should have professionally printed business cards.  Their bid should provide enough detailed information so that there is no misunderstanding as to what is entailed with your project.  You don’t want something just scribbled on a piece of paper.  Their work vehicles should be maintained and look presentable.   You don’t want big oil puddles in your driveway.  Are the employees polite and have a respectable appearance?  They should clean up after themselves and not make a total mess of your home.

Expertise

Do they specialize in the type of work you need done? Just like in the field of medicine, you want a specialist to work on your project.  You wouldn’t want a pediatrist to conduct brain surgery.

If you need your hardwood floors done hire someone who all they do is hardwood floors.  Don’t hire a general contractor or a carpet layer to install your floors.  You want someone who knows hardwood floors and has a passion for their work.

If you find a contractor who meets all these criteria then your chances of having a successful project is greatly increased.

Bonus tip: Remember, good contractors are usually busy people, getting ahold of them may be a little tough at first.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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