One of the very exciting things I have been doing is taking home improvement classes each Saturday. There is a nonprofit organization in my neighborhood that offers free classes in home repair. So far I have taken classes in Porch Repair, Cement Repair, Roofing, Exterior Door Installation, Window Replacement, and Brick Walls and Walkways. They've been great! I have always been fairly handy, but I didn't feel like I knew how to make home repairs. Now I do.
In almost every class, the instructor has offered some tips for finding good contractors and handymen. I thought I would pass them on. Here they are:
1. Ask friends, neighbors and coworkers for referrals. This is the best way to find someone. Ask around - people are always happy to share their success stories!
2. Don't know of anyone who has had remodeling done? In our area we have Habitat for Humanity and other non-profit home building groups. One of my instructors recommended calling places like this and asking them for a list of referrals. He said that many of the contractors that work for companies like these are semi-retired and looking to give back to their communities. If you live in the inner-city or an older home (like I do) these people will frequently know the area and the type of construction.
3. In my Installing Windows class the instructor suggested using Angie'sList.com. They are a website you can join to read reviews on contractors, handymen, landscapers and mechanics that other people have used. After your work is done, you can in turn rate them. They receive over 5,000 reviews a month!
A couple other tips:
1, If you are hiring a contractor, make sure they have a license. In Michigan, a license is required. They get not only a copy to hang in their office, but also a small wallet sized one to carry with them. Be sure and ask if they are licensed.
2. Make sure they are insured. Especially if you are doing a big project, but even on the little ones. If something goes wrong, you want to know you are covered.
3. Ask them for references. Ask them for the phone numbers of people they have done work for. Every handyman, landscaper or contractor should have customers who will be happy to talk to you and tell you about their experience.
There are some jobs I can do myself, and some jobs I will need to hire out. I want to save money, but if the work isn't done right, then it is only going to cost me more in the long run.