Find a contractor who is not only licensed and insured to do the work, but also certified by relevant professional organizations

We have all heard the horror stories: the contractor who doesn’t show up or, worse, leaves a half-completed job for weeks; the scam artists and the overchargers; and the terrible finished products. Where does the homeowner, who only desires honest work for a fair price, turn? Whether you are looking for carpenters, a plumbers, or paver contractors, here are five tips to help you find the best contractor you can:

1) Interview your contractors. Ask them how many years experience they have, and how much experience they have with your particular project. Will they be doing the work themselves, or subcontracting it out? Who, exactly, will actually be on the job, day in and day out?

2) Ask for references. Follow-up on those references and ask them pertinent questions, such as about the contractors’ reliability, fairness, and skill. Even better, look online to see if you can get any unsolicited testimonials, or even try to find some testimonials yourself, as any references the contractor provides you with will probably be chosen for a reason.

3) Ask your contractor about his or her particular work habits. Will they be arriving early or staying late? Will they leave materials out in the street? For example, will there be pallets of concrete pavers kept in your front yard, your backyard, your driveway, your lawn, or the street? Are they clean and careful with your property?

4) Find a contractor who is not only licensed and insured to do the work, but also certified by relevant professional organizations. In order for the contractors to receive this certification (and the leads on new customers that may result), they have to keep up to speed on the latest techniques and technologies in their field. If you use one of these contractors, you know you will be getting the best contractor available at the time.

5) Ask about payment terms – the standard is 1/3 at the start, 1/3 upon delivery of materials, and 1/3 at completion. Also ask about what warranties the contractor offers to guard against faulty materials or craftsmanship.

If you do your homework properly, you’ll be sure to avoid a scam or a untrustworthy contractor. Simply ask your prospect, and ask around!