Finding a Reliable Contractor for the Job: A How-to Guide


Nothing ever is, and certainly does not stay, perfect and flawless, and this is just as true for your home, which sees normal day-to-day life and activities and wear and tear. This means sometimes things break, or just wear down, and need to be replaced or improved, which is completely normal, of course. So, some home improvement projects are in order, but it is not always easy to find the right contractor for these projects who is trustworthy, efficient, and reliable. Every project is unique and needs a suitable contractor’s tailored, specialized approach to succeed. That is why this little guide exists, to give you an overview of what to look for when perusing your options and to help you through the process of finding the perfect contractor for the task. So with all that said, let’s get into it.


First things first. Before you can start looking for a reliable handyman pro, you first need to have a proper plan. You need to create a specific, highly detailed, and accurate plan for the project you want to see done, as a detailed and clear understanding of what you want and the scope of your home improvement project helps to ensure that you find and hire the right contractor for the job. The more specific and detailed your plan, the more accurate and well-informed your cost estimate will be.

Be Aware of the Costs

You should be aware of the current cost of materials and labor, and keeping price increases in mind is almost a must when you are receiving estimates. For example, building an average-sized single-family home from scratch is a brutal 42% higher now than it was in 2019, only 5 years ago. One significant factor in these price increases is the shortage of building materials, as the prices for them have also risen by more than 19% over the last year. One thing affects another, and that is how we arrive at a 42% increase. It is not pretty to look at, that is for sure, but if you want to go about looking for a contractor, it is something you need to be aware of.


Do as much research as you can before even interviewing any potential candidates. Ideally, you get recommendations from friends or family who can give you first-hand and honest feedback about their experiences with contractors they have hired before. Otherwise, turn to the internet, try to filter through the possible options, and once you have found a few that seem suitable for the job, go into more detail. Read reviews of them, head to their website if there is one, see if it looks professional and trustworthy, and ask or check for references. Check with your neighbors or friends, local hardware stores, and so on for personalized recommendations, which is more or less the ideal scenario here.

At Least Three Candidates

Make sure you interview at least three candidates, with five being the ideal number to aim for, as a thorough bid process will give you a great overall idea of the fair market price. Ask plenty of questions with a written, “official” proposal from each of the contractors, with the most important question being whether they are insured and licensed. Uninsured contractors may be tempting as they cost less, but frankly, the legal and financial risk is not worth it.


Also, ask them about their timeline and work schedule for the job and about their precautions for protecting your home from damage during the construction work. Last but not least, make sure you ask them for some references to get a sense of what other homeowners’ experiences working with the contractors have been like before you make a concrete decision.

Check Insurance and Licenses

Every country or state has differing license requirements for contractors, which you can usually verify through your state’s or local labor office, as well as their current certificate of insurance. Other than these official, legal factors, the other vital qualification is their experience, how long they have been operating, what sorts of projects they have already worked on, and so on. This does not mean, of course, that less experienced contractors are immediately unqualified and that you should ignore them, but generally speaking, going with seasoned professionals who have been through it all before can help bring you peace of mind and stability as the project gets seen through.

Expect a Deposit

Your contract, once finalized, may need a down payment before you can be added to their schedule and to make sure the project can move ahead once the materials have been purchased. You may also be able to negotiate with the contractors, including the payment terms and amount of the down payment. Many, if not most, states have a limit on how much contractors can ask for a down payment before the work starts, but if not, then the usual down payment is between 10% and 25% of the total cost of the project. When it comes to payment options, you are unlikely to be surprised; cash, check, online payment, and what have you, should all be par for the course, the details of which you can, of course, discuss with your contractor.

Unexpected Costs

Plans in life rarely go exactly as we imagined them, and here too, you need to be aware of unexpected costs, especially as a cost estimate is just that, an estimate, and not set in stone. Especially with something as ambitious and complex as a home improvement project, there are plenty of potential surprises you may need to face, which can add to the total cost. This is why you should make sure you set aside 10% to 20% of your overall budget just in case you need a cushion for surprise expenses.


Home improvement projects need the right contractors, naturally. To make sure you do not waste a significant amount of time, money, and effort, you should make sure you take your time to find a suitable contractor before making a decision.

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