Finding a Reliable Handy Man / Contractor

19 Replies

Hope everyones well. How did some of you go about finding a good reliable Contractor or handyman to make improvements on flip properties? Ive tried Craigslist so far and its been flaky. 

trial and error.  you have to go through about 20 to find a good one for awhile.  then he will go bad too.  that's how the cookie crumbles 

Trial and error is probably a good tip.  As for the go bad eventually comment, I'd suggest paying the good one a fair rate and they'll be far less likely to "go bad".  No one like's to work for free, that goes for people who own trucks and tools as well as those who own BMW's and briefcases.  Pay them poorly, not on time, argue about every bill and every cent and I'll argue who it is that went bad.

That said, I'd avoid Craigslist.  The jobs a person gets from people searching craigslist are the best jobs to avoid so anyone looking for gigs there are also probably the best ones to avoid.

Hop in your car and drive around a nice, middle class neighborhood and look for people working on these houses.  Avoid the ones driving $65,000 lifted trucks and the ones in rusted, 1991 minivans, no offense to either of these groups but the rest are probably what you're looking for.

We tend to find them on Craigslist as well and try to target ones as close as possible.  First we hire them for something that only costs a couple hundred dollars and go from there.  If they are professional, on-time, have fair rates, and the work is good, we increase what we hire them for.  We've gotten excellent contractors that way, and the ones that weren't good we didn't lose much money on (or lost zero dollars because they never showed up).

You can also ask good contractors or other investors for referrals.  If they have a great reputation they would not want to risk it by recommending a bum.

Yeah I figured that it would be a trial and error situation. Ill definitely get out today and look for someone working on houses and inquire. Great idea! thanks George P. & Chris Christianson 

I like that idea as well Kim Giannola. Thanks good way to weed em out.

As others suggested I would also avoid craiglist, it's often trial error, for bigger jobs I request for licenses, picture ID,  look up contractors infor. your state licensing website, check references, ask questions, visit past job, for example a rehab, roofing job etc..

I have been doing this business for 16 years.  They are hard to find.  This guy promised he could build Noah's Ark, I told him to show me, first 2 days he was amazing.  3rd day, around 1 on Friday, I walked into to rehab, saw an empty bottle of whiskey and became concerned.  I walked into the room he was doing work in and this is what I find....lol.  

Wasted.  I yelled his name and when he picked his face up it was covered in wood shavings.  I told him to call his girlfriend to pick him up and take his tools.  He was too drunk to drive, so I made him give her the keys.

The search never ends!!

Omg this can't be real lmao JP Smith. I can't stop laughing yet its sad because he obviously had a problem smh

It's 100% real!  Other investors and I now have a saying "Picture or it isn't true" of the stuff we come by.  I took the picture.  As he was leaving, and I gathered up his tools, he mumbled, "Can I come back on Monday?".    That was probably the funniest part.

To all the rookies and newbies, DO NOT give these guys a second chance, you will regret it.  You will debate with yourself, well he did do a great job at a great price the first 2 days.  Don't do it!!

It must be that Kentucky whisky :) You should give story to journalist, embarrassing.  In this business you have be to pit-bull for these handyman to do anything right!

Word of mouth from someone you trust is the best way to find a solid handyman IMO.

Oh - I'm definitely going to follow this thread - I'm new so I haven't found a GC on  my own, but I was reading "The Book on Flipping Houses" recommended in a few of the bigger pockets podcasts I've listened to... and he was suggesting finding good GC's by asking other investors (referrals), asking subcontractors (who have they worked with that have been great), and one I found interesting was going to home depot (or similar) early in the morning. I couldn't picture it, but he said he goes really early to see which contractors are there (getting an early start on their jobs!) and gives them his card to see if they are interested.  The author said he's had good success that route...

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Trial and error, but also expand to other services like Angieslist or check with your local REIA club and ask for some recommendations. Fellow investors in your area could give you the best help with those.
Trial and error, but also expand to other services like Angieslist or check with your local REIA club and ask for some recommendations. Fellow investors in your area could give you the best help with those. Forgot what I just did 2 hours ago lol: check meetup and look for a live rehab as well.

Very simple place to find great contractors.

Go to local fire station and ask.

Most of the guys are licensed in a particular trade or go to local lowes or HD and meet and greet. Get there early enough to see the ones who are working the most.  For example, @ J Scott, he recommends the early crowd because those are the ones who are out before everyone else and are likely to be the ones who are vetted in the industry.

Try his book on House Flipping.  Great chapter on How to Find Realiable Contractors 

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I agree with JP Smith! Don't give them another chance, people show you who they are believe them. Unfortunately a good contractor will probably cost you more then a crappy one. The reason being is that the good contractor actually plans on finishing the work correctly whereas the bad one could careless as long as he has made his money.

Personally I always Google their company name and search to find reviews or testimonies. If they are professional they probably have some of this on the Internet and interestingly enough I find that once there are public reviews if they did anything bad past clients are much more likely to leave bad comments about them, as they are outraged by the good reviews. You will most likely never find a perfect contractor but I rather pay a bit more and get the job done correctly. Having to fix mistakes from other contractors usually ends up being more expensive.

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