It can be daunting to begin home improvement projects or repairs, especially when it’s time to decide which company to hire. There’s a lot to consider when choosing a contractor, and consumers may not realize how important the initial communication can be. When contacting a company for the first time, here are five things to avoid:

1. Calling contractors before vetting them.

Don’t contact just any company. You want a contractor you can trust, so you should only call reputable companies instead of wasting your time talking to those that lack the proper experience or qualifications. Look for a company with a proven track record—quality work, years of experience, and satisfied customers. The company should also hold any insurance or licenses required by the state.

If you’re unfamiliar with the Best Pick certification, know that any contractors on our website must meet the insurance and license requirements of the states they service, and they must also carry general liability insurance, even if not required by the state. Each Best Pick company has also earned an A grade based on more than 100 previous homeowner reviews, indicating high customer satisfaction and quality of work.

2. Calling contractors before researching your job.

Investigate the problem. If you have an issue, make sure you find out possible causes and reasonable solutions. You’ll want to have a meaningful conversation with the contractor instead of feeling overwhelmed by terminology or wondering whether the contractor is making up more work than is necessary. You can find dozens of helpful articles through our website and in your copy of Home Reports or Best Pick Reports.

Know what you want. If you’re hiring for an extensive project, you should have a firm budget in mind as well as specific ideas about what you want done, including a list of materials. You don’t want to spend more than you can actually afford because you got caught up in a contractor’s sales pitch. You’ll probably want to hear a contractor’s potential solutions and design ideas, but you won’t be able to evaluate those ideas very well if you haven’t yet figured out your own vision for the project.

3. Hiring the first contractor you call.

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Call more than one contractor. If you want to find the company that is the best fit for you, you will want to talk to and meet with multiple companies, especially if you’re undertaking a bigger project, like remodeling. It’s good to get at least three written estimates so that you can make an informed decision.

4. Not asking enough questions.

Cover the who, what, when, where, why, and how. For bigger projects, it’s always good to request the contact information of several clients who have had similar work done. You should also ask about permits, subcontractors, cleanup, and time lines. Have a list of questions ready to ask each potential contractor, and ask the same questions to each company so that you can accurately compare your options. You can also ask these same questions to each company’s references to hear their feedback.

5. Allowing yourself to be bullied.

You don’t have to do anything. Be wary of anyone who tells you that you need to make an immediate decision or sign a contract right away. Don’t make a decision simply because you’re in a high-pressure sales situation or are offered a “today only” incentive; a reputable company will allow you time to research your options and gather other bids.

There’s more to consider before you actually sign a contract with a company, so check out EBSCO Research’s blogs on home improvement scams and reputable contractors for some more helpful tips.

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Sources: Federal Trade Commission; Public Broadcasting Service; This Old House..

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