Finding good contractors

23 Replies

@Derrick Atkinson

I figured I could add some since no one else decided to talk. I have not started my self, but I do read a lot! I guess you can do searches online and look for reviews like discussed above. Start networking using social media such as linked in, facebook, BP etc... A lot of people will recommend joining a local real estate club. This will allow you to talk with other investors and hopefully give you the reccomandations you may need.

I have had problems with contractors also...specifically, when I had a reputable plumbing company do some work in my home and a defective pipe fitting failed...the contractor that I hired to do the reframing and remodeling tried to get me to join him in a scheme to scam the plumbing company out of money during the water damage repairs.    Luckily for me the work was almost entirely completed in the house but the relationship soured so badly with the contractor we almost came to blows over the mess.   I would never hire this guy again which is a shame for him because his work was very good.    

I have been trying to decide if I should give him bad reviews in my small town.  My business reputation is extremely important to me and I do not want this guy trashing my good name around town so for now I am just letting it be.    

After all this, I strictly use word of mouth to find contractors and have mediocre results with this.   I tried the Angieslist but my town is too small to have anyone nearby listed on her website so that was a waste of my money.   Other web searches only produce minimal reviews which I dont put much stock in....even the best contractors are not going to be able to keep all customers happy at all times and many people will only leave reviews for companies if their experience was bad.   I do not use contractors enough to know all of them in my area, for now if I need work done, I do not hire the cheapest, or the most expensive...I go for the one that leaves me feeling like I can trust them when I meet them face to face....its more my gut feeling I guess.   I wish I could rely on a more scientific approach to finding good contractors.  

I will be interested in seeing if others have a method that works well for them that I can apply.   I am eager to find a good, honest, affordable contractor because building my team is very important to me.   I have a great real estate agent that has been with me since 2012 and we have used her to purchase 3 properties in our small business...it is great to have a person you can trust and rely on regularly.   

Thanks,

Tom

I found my honest and reliable contractor where I found my pet unicorn. 

I don't know if they exist! I have tried google, yelp, craigslist. Here is the thing, reviews and references can be faked. Why would they give you the number of the person they screwed over for a reference? And thats who you want to hear from!

 Now I just go with craigslist and give them a little bit of work at a time, and when they get sloppy I stop giving them work and bring in a new person. Even guys that do ok on a few jobs you can't trust. it's like they get assured that you'll keep using them no matter what and they get lazy. It is maddening. I should clarify that I use subcontractors, no general contractors. 

Originally posted by @Derrick Atkinson :

How to find/locate good, honorable, and dependable contractors.

 I simply look in the mirror.   :)

But seriously, referral is probably the best method and it may take time...weeding through some bad ones, to find good ones. The good thing is though: once you find one, you'll find others through him...because birds of a feather flock together. 

Good contractors absolutely do exist but you also have to be willing to pay accordingly.  All expensive contractors are not good but all good contractors are expensive...and worth every penny.

@Derrick Atkinson Three things have worked for me.

1. go to the large home improvement stores early in the morning. See who is there at 6am. These are generally the good guys. Not 100%, but it worked for me. (this was a tip from someone else here on BPand it worked)

2. Asked my real estate agent. They keep a list of good foundation, inspectors, pest, and electrical contractors. I used a recomended inspector, who turned me onto a good pest guy.

3. Asked my neighbor. He is a retired pumbing estimator. He refered me to the best HVAC guy.

It has been mostly a "miss" with craigs list. but I did find a good pool replaster who gave me a contact for a good cement contractor. Unfortunatly, this type of work is a one time thing. The funny story about finding the pool replaster... I had the first quote come in at $20K and the second quote come in at $3K. So I desided to get no less than 20 quotes. Needless to say,  I learned a lot and knew exactly what the guy I chose had to offer and what the price should be.

Hi @DerrickAtkinson,,

How are you and welcome to BP.

I currently coordinate monthly educational events in Philadelphia for the Local REIA's. We always have service providers attending. Please email and I will send you an invite.

Regards,

Joe Scorese

Good contractors are sometimes too busy for you to find.

I would suggest posting an ad in the "Services Needed" section of Craigslist and making a sort of "open house" and invite any contractor interested in the job to come look at the property and give you their estimate. You will get bombarded with more contractors and "handymen" than you will know what to deal with.

Verify licenses, insurance, past work/references and choose wisely.

Thank you all, this has been such great advice, it has been greatly appreciated. @JosephScorese I am a DIGS member and I actually met you at last months expo, is that the events that you were mentioning?

Originally posted by @Derrick Atkinson :

How to find/locate good, honorable, and dependable contractors.

I can tell you where you wont find them , craigslist for starters .  Good contractors dont advertise , they dont need to.   If and when you do find one , be prepared to pay for their expertise . Good ones dont come cheap , they dont have to be . 

Best way is always word of mouth and go with someone who you feel comfortable with.  Give them something smaller to start and see if they'll prove themselves.

Angies list I personally think is a joke, they charge a good chunk of change which limits who's on there and as we all know the more you spend the more you charge.

Craigslist is hit or miss, I'll answer an ad or two when I'm on looking for other stuff to buy but don't really look for work on there.  I've hired a couple subs off there and will never do it again.

Ask around some of the specialty supply houses instead of the big box stores if you need a specific trade, if you hire a specific trade you can also try to get a referral from them

 If you need someone for the whole project be prepared to pay for it and watch out for the underbidders.  If they're worth it they won't even get into a bidding war (just walked off a bid yesterday for that reason) but don't be scared to try negotiating a little bit.

Originally posted by @Armando Ramirez :

Good contractors are sometimes too busy for you to find.

I would suggest posting an ad in the "Services Needed" section of Craigslist and making a sort of "open house" and invite any contractor interested in the job to come look at the property and give you their estimate. You will get bombarded with more contractors and "handymen" than you will know what to deal with.

Verify licenses, insurance, past work/references and choose wisely.

I tried this once and I had 30 calls in the first few hours. I had to pull the posting in less than  half a day. I vetted most by phone and met maybe 10 "contractors" on-site. After meeting them all, I was never happier to go back to my overpriced GC! 

In a smaller market this may work for you. I think, in a major metro area, you'll be overwhelmed with scammers and drug addicts. I clearly stated I was looking for licensed and insured contractors and would verify. Only 1 out of the 10 that showed was actually licensed but he was mentally unstable, to say the least...

Most that showed had no transportation and/or drivers license, they had a family member drive them to the site. 

Originally posted by @Elliot S. :

Best way is always word of mouth and go with someone who you feel comfortable with.  Give them something smaller to start and see if they'll prove themselves.

Angies list I personally think is a joke, they charge a good chunk of change which limits who's on there and as we all know the more you spend the more you charge.

Craigslist is hit or miss, I'll answer an ad or two when I'm on looking for other stuff to buy but don't really look for work on there.  I've hired a couple subs off there and will never do it again.

Ask around some of the specialty supply houses instead of the big box stores if you need a specific trade, if you hire a specific trade you can also try to get a referral from them

 If you need someone for the whole project be prepared to pay for it and watch out for the underbidders.  If they're worth it they won't even get into a bidding war (just walked off a bid yesterday for that reason) but don't be scared to try negotiating a little bit.

This is spot on advice, especially the referrals from other contractors. That leads you to others and so on. You can also ask around at supply houses for each trade. They know who uses the best materials, is the busiest and probably isn't too much of an a-hole! 

The pro desk is hit or miss even at those times.  Usually the night before I grab what I need to get my hourly guys rolling in the morning or load the trailer up and drop everything at once and they go straight to the job.  

Remember when you see the full crews grabbing supplies the boss is paying them by the hour which adds right onto your bill at the end.  Personally I try keeping everyone working at the jobsite when they're on the clock so my costs stay down.

Finding a good contractor is hard and unfortunately a necessity in this business to get the work done. I have a property under contract and I have taken several contractors to the property to give me an estimate, 5 contractors to be exact. The first one took almost two week to get bac to me , the second one never call me back and when I contacted him the excuse was that his Aunt was sick but could recommend another contractor, never call me back. The third contractor took measurement and lots of notes but never call me back , I called  and texted him 15 times, but no answer. The forth one did not have a license and wanted me to bring in the material to the site , the price was not competitive and had barely taken notes when he visited the property with his wife and daughter??? The last one has not produce an estimate yet, in a nut shell this is frustrating and need to find someone fast since I am going to settlement October 9 and need to get the project moving. I am even considering becoming a General contractor my self if that would help , not sure. Any advise would be greatly appreciated.  Ed   in Maryland  

Can anyone recommend good contractors and handymen in London, Ontario? I just had a guy butcher two door installations so bad that I had to put a stop payment on the cheque and now have to hire someone to redo the work. Any secrets to smooth over being a woman and needing to hire trade types? 

Thanks. 
Carolyn

Hey @Carolyn Guertin ! I'm a carpenter in London Ontario and i've helped a few investors here with some projects. Couple weeks ago I helped @Kellan P. install two front doors on his property and have helped @Michael Rosehart with his rental properties. I currently work full time so any projects would have to be evening and weekend work. 
Here is a link to some photo albums of work i've helped complete over the years. Renovation Album If you need a hand let me know! I'm trying to build a good reputation for my self around here!

before and after for the door installation.