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Great Article on “7 Mistakes to Avoid When Hiring Pros” Really Hits Home.

7 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Hiring Pros

This article does a great job of pointing out mistakes that we consistently we see owners make when working with vendors of any kind. Due to the volume of business we manage trends start to emerge. We often see things much more clearly than someone with less experience or no experience is able to obtain. I’ll include some notes below within the article to elaborate on this experts already wonderful insight. 

As a homeowner, it’s helpful to know the basics of finding a home improvement contractor. From getting multiple estimates, to talking to previous customers, there are a few proven methods of finding the perfect pro. During your hunt for a contractor, make sure to avoid these seven mistakes.

1. Poor Communication

Open communication is the golden rule of dealing with home improvement contractors. As long as you find a reasonably honest person, asking straightforward questions and clearly delineating what you want and expect from your home projects will eliminate the vast majority of potential problems. Put this verbal communication in writing, and you can protect yourself from unreliable contractors.

If your vendors or contractors communicate with you by text or can’t clearly and accurately state the scope of work, limitations and procedures, they’re not communicating clearly and this will be a problem at some point.

2. Waiting Until You Need a Contractor

One of the most common homeowner mistakes — waiting until the heater breaks down or major plumbing leaks occur — frequently causes the cost of repair to rise. In fact, not addressing these problems early on can lead to costly replacements in lieu of repairs. Spending $500 on a 20-year-old heating system is not a good investment, but it can take a week or more to find and install the right replacement heating system. As soon as you see signs of trouble, get someone out to your home for a look. Don’t ignore a wet spot on your ceiling. And, be sure to run your heating and air conditioning for an hour during the off-season. Much like a CEO, you should be concerned with the long-term financial status of your home.

The longer I’m in business and run a couple businesses the more I realize how important win-win relationships are to long term success. Professionals who are in the business and who stay in the business have these relationships that have been developed from actually doing the work and seeing the results. Good vendors stay in, bad vendors go away. Trying to figure this out on your own is brutal at best and while you may get lucky more than likely you won’t. The problem is that you may never know whether the work and cost was appropriate or not.

3. NOT Hiring a Home Improvement Contractor

There are a number of different home improvements that present themselves as viable DIY projects, only to morph into money-sucking monsters. Fence building, deck building, exterior house painting and drywall repair can all fit into his category. None of these projects is impossible to do for the right person, but the average homeowner should always lean toward hiring a pro when there is even the slightest doubt.

Properly making a home ready for sale is paramount. Of the last 3 homes we’ve sold they have brought in multiple offers and sold for above the listing price on average above 5%. 

4. Hiring Someone Who Shows Up at Your Front Door

Avoid door-to-door solicitation. Depending on what your gut tells you, respectfully ask for a business card and look the company up or call your neighbors and the local chapter of your Better Business Bureau to report suspicious behavior.

I think this one is obvious but good vendors are in demand and have just about more business than they can handle. If a company is going into a new line of work in the same type of business that may be an opportunity for a deal but if someone is walking your neighborhood and they are the person doing the work, not just putting out flyers, just say no.

5. Hiring Someone to Fix a Problem Without Diagnosing It

Don’t hire someone to patch a hole or leak without addressing pre-existing water damage. Perhaps the worst thing you can do is ignore a contractor who identifies and recommends further repair. If a contractor can show or explain why water damage occurred, don’t think that you can fix the drywall and worry about the rest later since money is tight.

The first question homeowners ask is “how much will it cost”? The problem is that until you’ve gotten into the repair you may not know exactly what needs to be repaired. There are always surprises, always, even for the best techs. Having a vendor you trust is the real key. The problem isn’t going away, will probably get worse and more expensive over time and finding the cheapest solution will typically only mask other issues.

6. Being Enticed by Low/High Bids

You should always be wary of bids that are substantially higher or lower than those of the competition. One explanation for a high bid may be that a contractor is backed up and isn’t looking to take on more work unless the profit margin makes it worth it. Just as you would with a suspiciously low bid, ask both the individual contractor and the rest of the bidding contractors why one single bid is so much higher or lower than the others.

Staying in business takes a lot more than it appears on the outside. For every one hour on site a typical vendor may spend 1.5 hours driving to and from the job site. Then you’ve got labor on that 1.5, fuel, vehicle cost, insurance of multiple types, accounting, adverting, customer services, taxes, shop costs such as rent, electricity, water, more taxes, many more taxes. Get a fair bid for a fair result. Just don’t get greedy or you’ll only shortchange yourself. 

7. Not Looking Far Enough

It doesn’t matter whether you live in a city or in a more rural area, don’t think you need to focus on hyper-local contractors. Most home improvement contractors service multiple counties. By searching surrounding areas, you may be surprised by the number of contractors who are willing to travel and provide bids — especially for larger projects.

GARSC, LLC covers 3 counties. This is correct however that it has to be worth the drive. Austin traffic is nothing pretty. 

Marcus Pickett is a professional freelance writer for the home remodeling industry. He has published more than 600 articles on both regional and national topics within the home improvement industry

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