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Tips for Finding Excellent Contractors, Electricians, and Plumbers

What you'll learn: Learn the key components every reputable contractor should have


Tips for Finding Excellent Contractors, Electricians, and Plumbers

When you need home repair or are working on a remodeling project, finding a reputable contractor, electrician, or plumber can be daunting. However, with a bit of research, preparation, and the correct knowledge, you can find a professional who will do the job right.

Balancing the Three Keys

There are usually three critical attributes of any contractor that you are balancing:

  • The speed at which they can complete the job
  • The quality of the work they produce
  • The price of the work they charge

You want to find a construction or home repair professional who will, at minimum, provide one of these three attributes, which should also align with your most important need. If you want high quality, look for someone known to produce such. If you need it done cheaply, look for someone who will guarantee a low cost. And likewise, if you need it fast, look for someone with a time guarantee.

If you are lucky, you may find a contractor that will provide two of these attributes; however, it is almost impossible to find someone to deliver all three.

Essential tips when looking for a reliable contractor, electrician, or plumber for your next project

Ask for recommendations

One of the best ways you can find a reliable contractor, electrician, or plumber is to ask for recommendations from your friends, family, and neighbors. They may have had similar work done recently and can provide valuable insights and feedback. You can also use "neighborhood" mobile apps or local Facebook and other social media groups to get recommendations. 

Check licensing and insurance

Before hiring any contractor, electrician, or plumber, be sure to check their licensing and insurance. Most states require professionals to be licensed and insured, which can protect you in case of any accidents or damages during the project. If an unlicensed and unbonded contractor or their employee were to be injured on your property, you could be liable.

Checking a contractor's licensing and insurance can ensure that the contractor is qualified and legally allowed to perform the work you need. Here are a few ways to check a contractor's licensing and insurance:

  1. Ask for their license number and insurance certificate: Legitimate contractors should be able to provide you with their license number. Checking their insurance certificate for workers comp, liability, and property damage coverage will also give you peace of mind.
  2. Check with your state's licensing board: Most states have a licensing board that oversees contractors in the construction industry. You can check with your state's licensing board to verify that a contractor is licensed and in good standing. Many states have an online database where you can search for a contractor's license. You can find this information through your state's licensing board website or by searching "contractor licensing [your state]" on a search engine. You can also confirm information with local and national professional organizations: Many professional organizations, such as the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI), National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), and National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) have a list of their members who are licensed and insured.

Read reviews and check ratings

It's important to note that even if a contractor is licensed and bonded and receives a recommendation from their relative, it does not guarantee the quality of their work. It's always a good idea to check references and read reviews before hiring anyone for a construction or repair job. Online reviews and ratings can be a great way to gauge the quality of work and customer service provided by a contractor, electrician, or plumber. Look for reviews on websites such as Angi, Yelp, and the Better Business Bureau. PenFed members may also be able to work with HouseHappy (Check relationship necessary to use their services)

Get quotes for the job

Once you have a list of potential contractors, electricians, or plumbers, it's essential to get multiple quotes. Multiple quotes will give you a sense of the average cost for the project and help you make an informed decision.

When getting a contractor quote, there are a few essential things to keep in mind:

  1. Get multiple quotes: It's a good idea to get at least three quotes from different contractors to compare prices and services.
  2. Make sure the quote is detailed: A detailed quote should include a description of the work that will be done, the materials that will be used, and the cost of labor and materials. It should also specify the timeline for the completion of the project. You also want to get apples-to-apples quotes. The quotes cannot be compared if the different contractors list different work in their quotes.
  3. Check for references: Ask for references from the contractor, and call them to get an idea of the contractor's work quality, reliability, and customer service.
  4. Be cautious of lowball quotes: Be careful of quotes that are significantly lower than the others, as they may indicate a lack of experience or understanding of the scope of the project.
  5. Confirm if the contractor is a member of any professional association or organization, this will give you an idea of their level of professionalism.
  6. Communicate clearly, about what is included and what is not included in their quote, as well as your expectations and any specific requirements for the project. This step will help ensure that the work is done to your satisfaction and avoid any confusion later.
  7. Ask if the contractor offers any work warranties/guarantees, and make sure to read the fine print.

Payment Options

Discuss the payment options and your budget with all potential contractors before they start their work. Contractors will have different pricing methods because there are no industry standards. Try to set up a payment schedule after specific work is completed.

No matter the price, it's advised not to pay with cash. Paying by check or credit card for smaller projects and arranging to finance for larger ones provides more protection. If a contractor asks for cash payments, it may be a scam and they may never come back.

Down payments are, however, typical. Some states have down payment limits a contractor can request. Contact your state to learn about local area laws.

Making Your Final Choice

Ideally, the contractor electrician or plumber you hire will match your crucial attribute (speed, quality, or price), have experience and expertise, be trustworthy and professional, and have all the necessary permits and licenses for your project. If they fulfill all those requirements, you can check with the Better Business Bureau to see if they have any complaints lodged against them. If they do, it's not an automatic no. Contact them and ask how they resolved that particular issue.

By keeping these things in mind when selecting a professional for your repair or renovation project, you can ensure that you are getting a fair price for quality work from a reputable contractor. Once you find a suitible contractor with those characteristics, your project can begin.



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1Rates are updated daily at 10:15am EST. The advertised rates and points are subject to change. The information provided is based on discount point, which equals percent of the loan amount, and assumes the purpose of the loan is to purchase a property with a 30-year, conforming, fixed-rate loan. Loan amount of $400,000; loan-to-value ratio of 75%; credit score of 760; and DTI of 18% or less. The property is an existing single-family home and will be used as a primary residence. The advertised rates are based on certain assumptions and loan scenarios, and the rate you may receive will depend on your individual circumstances, including your credit history, loan amount, down payment, and our internal credit criteria. Other rates, points, and terms may be available. All loans are subject to credit and property approval.