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What you should look for in a contracting company

So you're thinking about renovating a bathroom or painting a bedroom? Where do you start? Friends? Family? The almighty Facebook? All of these are good resources to obtain what seems to be the golden ticket: reviews.

Reviews of companies or individual contractors seem to be the go-to source to vet would-be contractors. After all, what better way to review potential companies than to read the good, the bad, and the ugly. We recommend the obvious sites like Facebook and Google, but also ones dedicated to the trades like Thumbtack, Houzz, and Home Advisor.

Above and beyond reviews, homeowners and business owners should also look for contractors who are licensed and insured (at a bare minimum), have systems put in place to make things easier (ever get a hand-written quote that you can't even read?), are communicative and forthright. Moreover, look for contractors who present themselves in a professional manner, can clearly and confidently project their expertise to you, the client, and treats your home as if it were theirs.

One item that might be worth exploring is references from past customers. It may be worth asking your contractor if they have references that you can call from recent projects they've completed. If they hesitate or beat around the question, you may just have your answer. If they welcome the idea, chances are they stand behind their work and are happy to showcase it.

We will add that asking for a contract and actually reading it will save you some serious time and headaches if things go south. If the contract is convoluted and full of jargon, chances are they copied from the internet and haven't given it much thought. Again, contractors who take short cuts on things like this will likely take short cuts on your project.

In short, use common sense, your social network, and some basic techniques to vet the next contractor that you invite into your home. And be sure to give them a review if you're impressed with their work; they've earned it.

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