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If you've ever experienced the frustration of paying more than necessary for home repairs, remodeling, or upgrades, you're not alone! Most of us have done it at one time or another, and it's not a pleasant feeling!
The good news is that if you make up your mind to do a little research, ask questions, request a free quote, and get two or three estimates, then you probably won't have to repeat the same mistake. Unless it's a dire emergency, it's always better to take your time in choosing a contractor or repair technician for a home project.
While it may be a little more time consuming to get recommendations, compare prices, and talk to several contractors, it's well worth it -- both in terms of monetary savings and peace of mind. Since the typical homeowner incurs many expenses, every year, to maintain their plumbing, electricity, roof, floors, HVAC system, landscaping, appliances, and much more, the amount of money you can save from comparing estimates and researching contractors can really add up!
The ideal scenario for hiring a home contractor is to get a recommendation from a trusted friend, family member, or neighbor. That doesn't necessarily guarantee that you'll be getting the best value for your dollar, but it's a darn good starting point! Online reviews of contractors can also be helpful, but sometimes they lack the detail and credibility that's essential to a meaningful recommendation. No review is complete unless it says whether the customer would hire the contractor again and if they (the customer) would recommend them to family and friends.
Since no one's perfect, it's also helpful to know what the contractor could have done better. A lot of times people will say something like, "I was satisfied with the end result, but the project took a lot longer than expected and the contractor always showed up late." Asking questions, comparing prices, and asking for references are among the ways to increase the likelihood that you'll be satisfied with the contractor you choose and the quality of work they provide.
Depending on the scope of the project and its estimated cost, you may also want to check whether the contractors you're considering are accredited with the Better Business Bureau and if anyone has filed a complaint against them. Being accredited does not mean that the BBB endorses the business, but it does indicate that the business does meet certain standards and that they have agreed to make a good faith effort to resolve consumer complaints. In order to be accredited by the BBB, businesses need to submit an application, meet accreditation standards, and pay a fee. To keep their designation, they must maintain at least a "B" rating with the Bureau and continue to comply with its standards of professionalism, honesty, and customer responsiveness.