Finding Your Initial Contractor Candidates When You Build a House or Remodel or Repair an Existing One

Have you ever wondered why some building projects come off without a hitch while others drag on, draining your energy and funds? The outcome often depends on whether you hired a tip-top team of good contractors or a ragtag team of ne'er-do-wells.

Qualified contractors are essential to the success of any building project. Whether you hire a general contractor or work directly with subcontractors, your project will only be as good as the people who do the work. Finding this dream team is achieved by a series of small, yet important, steps. From assembling a broad pool of candidates to a thorough investigation of their qualifications, each step is a thoughtful process. The following sources can be used to find these candidates.


Ideally, the referral should be from someone who is knowledgeable about building. For example, let's say that your friend recommends a carpenter to build your deck. Can your friend tell you what specific kind of carpenter this contractor is? A rough carpenter has knowledge of structural framing, decking, and sheathing whereas a fine carpenter performs more delicate work such as the installation of trim and casing. Because of the specialized training required for these trades, some carpenters are better suited than others to do certain work. As a result, a rough carpenter may not be qualified to install the crown molding in your home and a fine carpenter may not be qualified to build your deck. When soliciting referrals, ask people who understand construction and make sure they have specific knowledge about the contractor's qualifications and past projects.

Because architects are often asked to inspect contractors' work, your architect can provide a list of good contractors. If you are not working with an architect or other construction professional, consider visiting a construction jobsite. This must be done tactfully because your unscheduled visit may present a potentially disruptive or hazardous interrupation. Before you enter a jobsite, it is important to get permission from the jobsite superintendant who will likely provide you with the names of qualified contractors.

The benefit of a jobsite visit can be twofold. Not only does it allow you to speak with an expert contractor, it may possibly allow you to visually assess his work. This look behind the scenes is an opportunity to judge the professionalism of the people working there. Is the worksite well organized and clean? Is the workmanship neat? Are the materials new? If you take a visual assessment of the workplace you can confirm whether a contractor is indeed the professional he says he is. As a result, you may leave the jobsite both with a referral and a confirmation of its worth.


Contractors who advertise are good choices for your candidate pool because they demonstrate a desire to promote their business. This takes money! More importantly, it also shows that they are committed to a long-term relationship with the community. But know this: Advertorials are a cleverly disguised form of advertising. An advertorial, in contrast to an editorial, has content that is influenced by the advertisers and therefore is less objective than a professionally written editorial. Because an advertorial is written to resemble an objective article, it can easily mislead the reader to believe that the information is unbiased when really it is only a cleverly disguised advertisement. So be aware that XYZ Contractors may have paid hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars for that article touting them as experts in their field.

Start off on the right foot

Although assembling the broad pool of contractor candidates may seem like an insignificant exercise, it is not. This task should be done with care so that you choose candidates with the potential of fulfilling the requirements for your job. Why waste time with candidates that have little likelihood of meeting the license, insurance and background check that is to follow?

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