1. Ask around.
Inquire with your friends, family and co-workers if they have any contacts for a great plumber. They may say, “I know a great plumber, but…” The minute that “but” comes out of their mouth, move on. Any reservations are definite red flags and will come back to bite ya.
2. Interview several candidates in person.
I normally interview no less than three of each trade. Make sure all decision makers are present for the interview. Don’t go with someone just because they were highly recommended. We did that and regret it.
3. Ask a lot of questions.
Ask about turn around time, money, how long they’ve been in the business, quiz them about the job itself. You will quickly get a sense for their skill level and knowledge. Also, make sure to ask if they are licensed, if not, you have no repercussion if they mess up.
4. Find out who will be doing the work.
Let’s say you’re interviewing a hardwood floor installer. You may think they’re the ones who will be doing the job. However, come Monday his crew shows up and starts working. The person you interviewed is no where to be found. You thought you hired him but instead he sent his crew (who are complete strangers in your house all day long). Be clear about who will be doing the work. Inquire about how experienced his crew is and what he will do if their work is not to your satisfaction.
5. Check their references and check their work.
No matter what kind of story they give you do not skip over this step. Ask if they can meet you at their past job sites to show you their work. Ask for before and after pictures. Make sure to get at least three references. When you call the references ask questions such as…
a. When did JOE PAINTER work for you?
b. Was he reliable…did he deliver on what he promised?
c. Were you pleased with his work?
d. Is there anything you didn’t like about the job he did?
e. Did he have a crew with him and how did they perform?
f. Did the project go over the budget originally quoted?
g. Did the job take longer than he said he would?
6. Put it in writing.
Once you agree on sub and the job, draw up a contract which includes all the terms. Put in a “no show” clause meaning if the sub doesn’t show up on the day they said then you will deduct $100.00 (for example) off their pay. You can also draw up the terms where if they don’t finish the job to your satisfaction on the date agreed upon then “X” amount will be deducted from their pay per day.
7. Think hard before hiring family members.
So you have a family member who offers to be your painter. If you’ve ever done any type of remodeling you know that RARELY does it go according to plan. You, as the customer, are emotionally and financially invested in the project. If that family member messes it up or doesn’t perform to your standards, your relationship goes out the window, and you end up resenting them for a long time. It’s just not worth it. Just decide up front to make it your policy not to hire family so not to potentially jeopardize relationships.” (R.M., I’m not referring to you…:).
8. Follow your instincts.
Life is funny. We all have a built in sense about people. It’s that little feeling in your gut that tells you right from wrong. Don’t dismiss that feeling no matter how trivial your reasoning may be. I didn’t do this with a drywaller we hired and we ended up paying for it in time and money (and we’re still searching for the heat ducts he drywalled over).
Your standards are not their standards. After one guy botched a job in our house along with giving us a long list of broken promises I first went Jeff Lewis on him. Then, I stood over his shoulder and watched him do the entire job over and corrected him as he went. Oh yes, I did. Sometimes that’s what you’ve got to do to ensure the job gets done right.
10. Never pay until the job is done.
If you give them payment and there are just a few things left to complete YOU’LL NEVER SEE THEM AGAIN!