Too many seemingly qialified contractors to choose from

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Posted by: from Scarborough
1/21/2009 at 8:57:58 PM

Hello everyone,

There are plenty of contractors that seem great, but I'm finding a difficulty choosing the best for my projects. Any advise on what characteristics, qualities, paperwork and or signs I should look for because I hate to decline the perfect contractor and hire someone who isn't right for the job instead. What questions should I ask a contractor inorder to see their true capabilities/intentions...

any advise, previous experiences are more thank aprecaited.



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Victor from Promasons Inc. in Toronto
Date/Time1/21/2009 at 9:32:13 PM

Choosing a contractor is never easy, there are good ones and bad ones. One of the best ways is to get a reference from someone you know, presumably they had work done by the contractor, or know someone who did. Also its never a good idea to get more than 3 or 4 estimates, all it does is create confusion, and the cheapest price may not be the best choice even though it may be more attractive.

As a contractor I try to provide a fair price, honesty and give as much information to the client regarding the project as possible so as to avoid any misunderstandings.

Hope this helps. Regards

Victor -

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Date/Time1/22/2009 at 1:20:54 PM


1.) How long have they been operating under that business name.

2.) Ask for their wcb # and liability insurance holder - check them out

Are they up to date

4.) Ask for a copy of their prepaid contractor's license if they require money before the job starts.

3.) Ask them to supply you with references of there last three jobs.

It's nice to no that the contractor did a great job, but what you really want to no is about their weak points on the job, so you can work around them and be prepared for them.

The interview

When are they available? If you want something done right give it to someone busy. Good contractors are always busy and are worth waiting for. Idle contractors are ok as long as their references check out.

Talk to your contractor about the execution of your project. Note whether he shows interest in being understood by you and can communicate technical information. If he prefers talking over your head, fails to get his point across, or worse yet, gets exasperated in tiring to explain something to you, think where this could end up in the next several months.

Diplomatically find out about his personal life. You don't want a contractor who is going through a divorce or headed for heart surgery.

Do they have the man power to complete your project while they are working on other projects at the same time?

Ask for a copy of the conditions section of their contract. Will you be willing to agree to them? Is the contractor prepared to amend the conditions of the contract to fit your project needs?


Norm's Handyman Service

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Abba's Service in Huntsville
Date/Time1/22/2009 at 5:19:05 PM

Norm has a lot of good points but there is more that should be asked. He is right about only getting 3-4 estimates. You can always check to see if a company has a ranking on this site. The rankings are not generated by the contractor they are generate by the people that use this site. heck the message boards are there is plenty of contractors that are on top of there game. Does the contractor have a problem with breaking the payments up is he insured does he take his time or is the time estimated to complete the job seem a little quick. How many people in there crew does he have a website. Is he reputable does he have suppliers does he pay his bills. these are all good questions. The bottom line is it is up to you who you choose. Do they seem desperate for the job or will you have to wait. good contractors are busy and timing is everything. Does the contractor you think of using have any complaints against them. Do they have good affiliations with good companies. I hope this helps.

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Date/Time1/23/2009 at 12:32:08 PM

Hi Sara- these fellas have pretty much given you the best advice out there- just make sure that you yourself feel comfortable with your choice because depending on the scope of your project, it's going to seem like the contractor is living there. Good luck to you.

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Date/Time1/26/2009 at 3:42:30 PM

Again you have good advice from all in here....just make sure everybody is quoting on what you want and the ideas you want....always good idea to have things on paper, like drawings,plans....etc so every body is quote on same product.....then go with referals....certifications...etc.



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Date/Time1/28/2009 at 2:18:21 PM

Hi Sarah,

All of the contractors have pretty much given you the right information on how to go about the selection process. It really comes down to this:

1-your 1st impression of the contractor during the meeting i.e. were all of your questions answered and would you feel comfortable hiring this person and having them in your home for x-number of weeks.

2-the quote provided falls within the average range when compared to 3 or 4 quotes, however this will depend on how information you have provided the contractors and if suggestions are made by the contractor, please make you ask for the same provisions when meeting with the next contractor.

3-estimates/proposals should have detailed work description, including materials supplied and/or to be supplied by homeowner i.e. types of materials used, how many of everything such as number of doors, number of electrical units, type of flooring used & options and allowances, approximate duration of project, client referral list-10 to 20 names at a minimum, if they have been in business as long as they have been, then it should not be an issue for them to provide you with multiple references.

4-you should contact the people on the client referral list and ask to visit the finished product.

That should not be an issue, as I have numerous clients who are more than happy to see me come by with other homeowners. I did that for them as well.

5-electricians and plumbers in particular should be fully licensed.

6-if the contractor is a member of the BBB that too is a bonus because if there are complaints it will surely be filed and a report will be disclosed as to whether the contractor satisfied the dispute.

Wishing you a good endeavor with your home renovation projects!


Suzette Mariz ( Germano Creative Interior Contracting Ltd.)

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Date/Time3/12/2009 at 8:18:57 PM

Choosing a contractor...hmmm the best advice I can give as I used to run a Contractor Referral Service, is go and see a project that they are working on right now. Anyone can give a referral...hopefully most of these people are real and honest but sometimes it is an Aunt or an Uncle etc.... I find the best way is to go and watch them work. Do they get along with each other? Is the job site clean? And just obvious things like the quality of their work. For the most part if you want a good contractor pick a busy one. They are busy for a reason.

Bottom line if you don't like what you see your not going to like it at your own home. Also a contractor that has insurance means real business.

Good Luck.

Elaine @

ONE21 Kitchen Consulting and DESIGN.

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Abba's Service in Huntsville
Date/Time3/14/2009 at 12:21:23 PM

Well that is not always the way it seems! there is contractors out there that give false referrals. I know this because there was a house that I was working on a couple of months ago and did a really nice bathroom renovation. Then I had a customer that wanted a bathroom renovation. The customer told me that this other company gave the same reference as I did I called the customer on the spot and they said They have never heard of that contractor before. So what is a good referencing if other contractors try and steel your reference. Have you ever had someone else try and take credit for a job you did before! Real nightmare.

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Julius from Buildtek Group in Etobicoke
Date/Time4/14/2009 at 12:18:10 AM

Dear Sarah,

You have to be careful though, I know a lot of contractor out there know how to talk but they don't

have experience. Make sure they are licence, have commercial liability and wsib. Additional to the requirements make sure you have a written contract.

Julius I.

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Chris from C.C. Reno Inc. in Georgetown
Date/Time4/22/2010 at 2:03:06 PM

I agree to most of the answers but there are some guys(like me) who have been in the construction industry for most of their lives and have just started their own company. It doesnt mean we know less than the others or as less competent or reliable in the trade. Every one of us has had to start somewhere and just because the business has only been established for a short period we can still provide the proffessional workmanship the client is looking for. It takes time and alot of hard work to start a company and turn it into a successful business.

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