Hiring the right contractor for your construction project can be bit tricky. Since your choice will directly impact your satisfaction with your completed project, it’s important to be as thorough as possible during your search process.

Figure out your needs

When your project is still in its planning stage, you should take time to map out all that you want to accomplish, in as much detail as possible. This will also make your discussions with contractors much easier and will help you avoid misunderstandings down the road.

It is important to figure out things such as your budget, material you want to use, quality you require and the completion time for the project. As you do your research, you should consult architects, designers, and material supplies, so that you fully understand your preferences and options. You will get the best bids from contractors only when you will supply them with accurate details about your project.

Due diligence

Once planning part is over, you can begin search for a contractor. Take time for thorough research, as this will help you in finding the best person for the job. This is all the more important for larger project

It’s best to compile a list of contractors and then work to narrow down this number to at least three candidates. Then request bids from them. During your research you can use your family and friends as resources, since word of mouth is often the best way to find good candidates.

How to find a reliable contractor?

As you research on the contractors in your list, try to get a feel how established and reputable they are. You can research online and read reviews. Many contractors even have their own websites. Look for any complaints against them by using words like “reviews” or “complaints” with contractor’s name.

You can also seek references from your family and friends on reputable contractors. They’ll be happy to recommend one if they were satisfied with his work.

You can also check with BBB (Better Business Bureau). Find out all information about the contractors. Have any complaints been lodged against them? If so, what they’ve done to address them?

Also check whether the contractor you’re considering is licensed in your area. Don’t hesitate to confirm this by calling association in your area.

Additionally, check that they have proper liability insurance. It’s best if you can get written proof of the insurance, as this is mandatory to obtain a building permit. You can call their insurance agent to crosscheck that their policy is current and in force. While you’re on phone with agent, also ask if this policy has consistently been in place, or if it has frequently been lapsed or has been cancelled.

Finally, as these contractors for multiple references that you can call to verify their authenticity and quality of the contractor’s work. Did the contractor finish on time and stayed within the budget? Was there any damage to the property? If possible, you can go and check the contractor’s work yourself.

Discussions with short listed contractors

You should sit down calmly and talk with all shortlisted contractors. Ask relevant questions and find more about their experience. How long they’ve been in this business? What kind of projects they typically take on? What is their specialty?

As you discuss your project with them, keep in mind that professional contractors will have wealth of information and can provide you useful advice. It’s unlikely that they’ll agree to all your ideas because they know practically what’s possible and what’s not.

Finally, find out if they really have time to take up your project. If it seems they already have too much on their plate, be careful. On the other hand, if they don’t have any work, that could also be a big warning sign.


For maximum negotiating power, and in order to compare, get bids from at least three contractors. Make sure you get bids in writing and each of them addresses specific details of the project. You may want to compare apples to apples across the bids you receive. For this, be specific about the scope of your project when requesting bids, so that all contractors bid on same time-frame, work, and material quality.

Keep in mind that choosing the lowest bidder is not always the best course of action. Therefore, it’s important to find reasons for major price differences in the bids you receive. Be cautious if any contractor uses extremely low estimates for labor or materials. Find out the reason.

It’s important to take all intangible factors into account as well. Interpersonal interaction, at this point, is very important. You should be able to get along with the contractor and can work with him to make necessary decisions and handle issues that come up. If you feel your personality conflicts, then your project could suffer.

Get the contract in writing

Before your chosen contractor starts work, you should sign a written contract that lays out all important details, such as scope of the work to be performed, type of material to be used, expected time line, budget, contractor’s responsibilities and payment schedule.

Beyond these basics, there are many additional details that need to be worked upon. This contract should clearly stipulate: who is actually responsible for trash removal, ways to handle bathroom facilities, how to resolve disputes and what happens if project goes over the budget. Who will handle permits and inspections? Also make sure this contract is clear on what happens in case of natural calamities like storms, or some material shortage that prevent timely completion of the project.

You might also want to include many additional details in your contract as well. Make sure that there are absolutely no grey areas. In fact, if it seems like your chosen contractor is trying to be vague, you probably may not want to work with them anyway.

It’s best to get the contract reviewed by a lawyer before you sign. Read the contract thoroughly yourself as well, since you need to fully understand what the it contains before you finalize anything.


Although you might have to spend some time when searching for a contractor, it’s worth the effort. By taking time to hire a person you’re comfortable with and confident in, you can easily reduce chances of ending up dissatisfied once your project is complete.