In a Fix

Finding your right hand(y) man or woman

by Carley Lintz

Disasters always happen at the most inopportune moments; a pipe bursts while you’re on vacation or the heat goes out in the middle of winter. Unfortunately, many of us wait until after something goes wrong to start looking for a contractor, which means we’re stuck with whoever is available at that moment – no matter their price, reputation or workmanship.

That’s why it’s so important to be prepared with the number of a contractor you can trust on hand to ensure the problem is fixed promptly and properly. Every homeowner should have a go-to HVAC provider, electrician, plumber, roofer and pest control company ready in case of an emergency.

Here are a few expert tips for finding the best service providers in your areas:

Do your research – thoroughly.

Your home is a big investment, so you shouldn’t trust its maintenance to just anyone. When researching potential contractors, go beyond a cursory perusal of their website. Check to make sure the business is properly licensed and read reviews from past customers. Online databases like the Better Business Bureau, local Chamber of Commerce and trade associations can offer a wealth of information to homeowners.

Ask the right questions.

Before you put any companies on speed dial, talk to a real person – either in person or over the phone – for an interview. Here are some key questions to ask:

• How long have you been in business?

• Do you have insurance, including worker’s comp?

• Can you quote me ahead of a project or repair?

• Can you provide a list of references?

• What does your warranty entail?

• What sets you apart from other similar businesses?

Be on the lookout for red flags, like a contractor that offers vague answers or takes forever to return your call.