How to Choose the Best Possible Contractor for Each of Your Real Estate Projects [Video!]

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If you are a real estate investor, choosing the right contractor for the right job is incredibly important to your success. Since we have been in this business for over 10 years, I have been through countless contractors. We have had some amazing contractors and some horrible ones that have even stole from me. In today’s post, I share some of the key contractors that you will need to run a successful investing business. I’ll also let you know how to determine who to call when you have different needs.

Related: 7 Tips for Finding (& Keeping) the Best Contractors For Your Team

I would love to get a discussion going! What tips and strategies do you have when choosing the right contractor for various project?

Thanks for watching!

About Author

Matt Faircloth

Matt Faircloth, Co-founder & President of the DeRosa Group, is a seasoned real estate investor. The DeRosa Group, based in historic Trenton, New Jersey, is a developer and owner of commercial and residential property with a mission to “transform lives through real estate." Matt, along with his wife Liz, started investing in real estate in 2004 with the purchase of a duplex outside of Philadelphia with a $30,000 private loan. They founded DeRosa Group in 2005 and have since grown the company to owning and managing over 370 units of residential and commercial assets throughout the east coast. DeRosa has completed over $30 million in real estate transactions involving private capital including fix and flips, single family home rentals, mixed use buildings, apartment buildings, office buildings, and tax lien investments. Matt Faircloth is the author of Raising Private Capital, has been featured on the BiggerPockets Podcast, and regularly contributes to BiggerPockets’s Facebook Live sessions and educational webinars.


  1. Curt Smith

    Hi Matt, Maybe folks didn’t know this very high level, ok it’s a start down a long road. What I was looking for so as to forward this blog post to students is how to screen contractors and even before this step where to find contractors at each level and specialty. IE hanging out at HD by the contractor coffee pot at 7am… like alot of guru’s suggest. Nice in theory… but alot of wasted time too.

    I suggest your next video could be on screening contractors. The 3rd on where to find each level and skill. I put screening before finding because that is THE most important step to the success of a project. Picking solid reliable, skilled, has a track record, with recent references, and starts work at 7:45 AM.

    Finding: best place is referals from folks in your local REIA. Next needs more work walking your area for other projects and asking for crew referals from those investors… Harder or impossible if they are busy they don’t want to give away their favorite crew. Last is posting gigs ads in craigslist. Class A and B contractors don’;t fish for work on CL, just independents and class C contractors/handymen/odd job pickup folks… I have been desparate for a licensed electrician or HVAC guy in a rural area that I used Angies list just for that specialist. No price breaks from these guys for being an investor.

    In my experience the #1 predictor of working out is if they have top references from their current job (must be working a gig now or just finishing) and the immediate preceeding job. References from 6 mo ago, toss those leads. Make sure not their brother giving the reference.

    #2 predictor is they have a bank account. This is like a free credit check. If they take job payment in checks and deposit into their bank, this is a BIG indicator of a decently run contracting co. I do most of my rehabs in rural GA and I never find folks with bank accounts and they hate my out of state business checks. I’m having to deal with class C workers so have experience at sortting out at the front end and having to put contractors OFF the job for a few causes. Mostly its due to drugs or alcohol impeeding getting work done or quality. Rarely do I have a quality problem at the onset. Checking references catches most of that and usually cataches drug/alcohol problems.

    #3 predictor is: how early in the AM they start work. You can fish this out of the interview. Just ask what time is the ideal time for them to start work? Ask it a few times and also ask their references. Folks who start after 9:30 are headed the wrong direction in their personal lives. Starting late is a bad sign in my experience. I called one crew at 9:45 and they said, the job will be done tomorrow we are putting the “coffee on” at 10am…. LOL the job was not done and I ended up having to put them off the job.

    My failures 99% have been my own fault. Letting a weak reference go by and going 99% off the face to face and walking the job site and talking about my quality and speed needs. Alot of very good tradesmen who know the job and quality but are off their game due to drugs and alcohol. Least in my area GA. Even urban contractors have this problem, but it is more common on my rural jobs.

    BTW I don’t waste everyones time with 3 bids. I don’t do $100k rehab flips, just lipstick rental fix ups and I know my prices. I put the entire punch list AND prices in my craigslist gigs ad, then screen folks based on my punch list and prices. Saves a bunch of time putting what you pay out there up front.

    • Matt Faircloth

      Hi Curt,
      Thanks for such a well thought out comment! I really appreciate your thoughts. I agree that selecting and vetting contractors is by far the most important. Question, in your part of the world do you have a problem with contractors having valid insurance? That is one thing that’s a hot button for us, perhaps because we are in litigious New Jersey, LOL. It’s funny you suggested another video on this, we just recorded a 3 part series on selecting and vetting contractors, we just recorded a 3 part series on our YouTube channel! We will be posting next week. The link in this video should take you to our channel, if you subscribe you can keep up with our posts!
      Take care,

      • Curt Smith

        Tnx Matt for the youtube channel tip!! To help others,,, when you click the above video, then click the tinny “youtube” at the bottom right. Then click on the left “subscribe”.

        Yes for anyone with any kind of assets of course cull applicants who present CURRENT paid up insurance docs. Call the agent. If you read their docs often its years old and expired. Yup!

        There are insured contractors in urban areas in GA. Flippers in my local REIA, with good sense only used fully insured crews.

  2. Sonia Spangenberg

    Thanks for this post. Very key topic. For the past year (my first year investing) we have been rehabbing (3 projects) in a city 3 hrs away. We spend part or most of our weekends traveling to check on our projects. Despite the fact my husband is a Class A contractor in our area, we have had difficulty with a few of our remote contractors. We started from scratch and are finding people trial and error. I did attend and connect virtually with the local REIA on B/P and Facebook and that has been helpful for a few leads. Being present is huge if you have a bad contractor. We’ve had some great subs and some bad subs brought in by the GC…and a bad GC. Showed us some great pics of past work but real experience was obviously not there as the project unfolded. If you are working in a more remote location, once you find a good contractor, use them for referrals for other good contractors.. They have been very helpful with weeding out people they don’t want to work with! I got a really good list of interview questions from my REIA and one of the questions was where do you see yourself in the next 5 years. That one surprised me. That really helps weeding out the fly by nights from the truly professional minded ones. Most interviews in the contracting arena are about what you are doing or have done. The future question was a new thought to me. I really look forward to the additional tips for screening. Thanks for the video.

    • Matt Faircloth

      Hey Sonia,
      Thanks for the comment! I really like the where do you see yourself question, it’s a good way to connect to the contractors goals and values. I will be using that one! Thanks for sharing you and your husband’s experiences also.

  3. Kevin Fox

    Great advice. I am always very weary of the ‘jack-of-all-trades’ contractor, but I do think it’s important to note that some contractors actually do offer a fairly diverse skill set. Much to your point, though; typically the more specialized the contractor is in your area of need, the more cost effective they can be in getting things done.

    • Matt Faircloth

      Hey Kevin,
      Thanks for the comment. The contractor that has lots of skills in different areas probably fits in the “handyman” box. That being said the handyman probably won’t want to cut your grass or remove a large tree for you, or wire up a fix and flip. They do serve their purpose though and their knowledge of “a little bit about a lot” can keep you away from unnecessary bills from specialists when they are not needed.
      Take care!

  4. Jerry W.

    Thank you for taking the time to post your experience for us. Your articles are superior to most of what is being posted lately. Not everyone is so willing to help others out. I am struggling to get a rehab done in a neighboring town. Part is my not being familiar with prices and quality, and part is a lack of good contractors.

  5. Curt Smith

    Good contractors can perform poorly depending… If you don’t give:

    – clear and detailed to do list, the punchlist blue taped to the wall.

    – punch list broke up into 1 week ‘sprints’.

    – You inspect either on Friday or on Sat and pay with a new check for past work done.

    I never pay 1/3 – 1/3 – 1/3!! That is a weak system that only works with class A contractors.

    I do lipstick rental rehabs with craigslist class C and D contractors. you need to be very very structured.

    – clear punch list.
    – clear expectation of quality
    – clear expectation of schedule
    – never pay a cent up front. You fetch materials and deliver first few weeks of work materials to the job site. Or have them pick up materials and use the pro desk to call you and you use your CC over the phone. You get the register slip to look for misc stuff added that you didn’t want like tools.
    – pay for work just performed and only if it meets quality. IE walk through each Sat AM, pay for completed work.

    yes yes this is difficult partial paying for work on Sat. I don’t do this exactly. I pay $1/sq foot of floor space for paint labor. I pay the whole painting labor bill upon completion. Painting a 1200 to 1500 sqft house should be 4 days, 5 max. So I pay after completion of that task. But hanging fixtures, misc stuff is possible to pay for completed work on Sat.

    This incentivizes quality and speed. The more quality work they do the more they get paid on Sat.

    Problems with class C/D workers is they need beer and gas money for sure by Friday evening… You need to work around their realities in my rural rehab env.

    • Matt Faircloth

      Hey Curt,
      You put out some really great ideas there, thank you! Have you ever integrated a “penalty phase” or “bonus” for the contractor? Meaning penalty if they finish late and bonus for early finish while meeting quality expectations. I have done it on larger jobs with some success, but not always. Curious to hear from you or others on this.

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