Hiring good contractors and handymen nowadays may seem like trying to find a needle in a haystack. In the grand scheme of things, the term “good” contractor might certainly be an oxymoron because of all the unethical rip-off artists, frauds, snake oil salesmen (the list goes on) that are involved in the profession. It’s amazing how such individuals gravitate to this line of work. But at the same time, it’s unfortunate because they can tarnish the reputations of the hardworking, honest and legitimate contractors that are in the business. The trick is to find and hire an ethical, customer-oriented contractor, and this can be quite a challenge, to say the least.
The process of hiring good contractors or handyman to work on your residential property is very similar to the process of finding a good mortgage lender – you must perform your “due diligence” and conduct a proper screening process.
Because your home is probably your most valuable financial asset, you’ll want to take the necessary precautions to find and hire a competent, ethical contractor or handyman to work on it. These precautions could make all the difference between having a good experience with the contractor or a nightmare.
The following are some general guidelines for finding and hiring good contractors and handyman to work on your rental property:
- Don’t fall for a slick TV, newspaper, Yellow Page or radio advertisement as an indication of a contractor’s work or reputation. Instead, first check with friends, family members, and neighbors who have hired contractors or handymen in the past. They’re your best source for good references.
- Beware of contractors who require large up-front payments and require you to take out the necessary permits. Legitimate contractors do not operate in this fashion.
- Obtain written estimates from several firms and don’t always choose the lowest bidder. They may be the lowest bidder for a reason! Ask for explanations regarding any price variations.
- Ask the contractor if they will be using “subcontractors” on your job. If they are, then request a lien release from all the subcontractors before you make final payment to the “general contractor”. This will protect you by ensuring that all subcontractors have been paid (by the general contractor) for work done on your property. This prevents them from placing “mechanics liens” on your property, which will force you to sell the property to satisfy their unpaid bills. Sounds crazy, but that’s reality!
- Don’t sign a contract that has “blank spaces” that can be filled in after you sign it.
- Make sure the contractor and all subcontractors are fully licensed, registered, and insured in your state and locality. Get copies of all current insurance certificates before work is started.
- Check the Better Business Bureau to see if the contractor or handyman is a member in good standing with no previous customer complaints.
- Beware of contractors who solicit door-to-door and/or only accept cash payments.
- Ask the contractor how long they’ve been in business, and ask to see a list of references for previous projects they have performed that were similar to yours.
Taking the above steps should go a long way in finding a good, reputable contractor or handyman to work on your property. And that will certainly make your experience as a landlord much more rewarding and satisfying at the same time.