Home ownership and real estate can be a lot of work for the home owner. I love old houses, but as with any home things go wrong and you have to make repairs. I have made a lot of mistakes in dealing with contractors and in this content I am going to give you some tips and tricks I have learned from my mistakes.

Do your homework. I know it sounds obvious, but sometimes I have had one contractor come and be so swayed by their sales pitch that I didn’t want to spend my time (synonomous with money) waiting for other contractors that may show up, show up late, or maybe not show up at all. Getting multiple estimates help and sometimes teaches you more about how they plan to do the job and the differences in cost.*

Get a completion time in the contract. Make sure you get a refund or partial refund if the work is not completed in a timely manner. Some contractors will push back on this citing reasons like weather, but any good contractor will agree to a date that is reasonable allowing some give for things like bad weather (or late supplies etc.).

Make sure there are lots of details int he contract. Things like “finishing work” and “custom” can mean different things to different people. Make sure that is clear. Make sure it is clear who will supply materials (such as paint). Also check the dimensions of any work and make sure you have taken a measuring tape and checked the dimensions yourself.

Often times there are lots of reviews and opinions from former customers and that can give you some warning signs about what could go wrong. Also, give back to these sites, if someone does a good job leave a note and let others know. The things that make these sites successful is community involvement and it is also a great way to say thank you for a job well done.

Get everything in writing! Every time something goes wrong you will wish that you had your conversations and agreements in writing. Keep track of correspondence by sending yourself email, or writing it down in a journal. If anything does change mid-job make sure you get both parties (you and the contractor) to agree to it in writing.

These are just a few things that have helped me and that I have learned from mistakes I made in dealing with contractors. If you have a little job you can find plumbers that work for top plumbing companies for half the price. My rule of thumb is “If I would try to do it myself then outsourcing is a good option”, but if you need the work guaranteed or it requires a very specialized skill it is probably best left to the pros 🙂

BTW, here is a great little way Craig Proctor does his research on different vendors I think is worth copying (this example was for exterminators to investigate our little ant infestation)

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