smart spending

7 tips for hiring the best contractor

Get (and check) plenty of references
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Woman on a phone call

Forget the old rule of three. Your prospective contractor should show up with at least 20 references, says Holmes. More is better.

How many should you call? "All of them," Holmes says. Ask about details that really matter to you: Did they start and end on time? Clean up the mess? Follow up a month later to see that everything was OK? Did the price escalate from the estimate even if the job didn't?

If you can look at projects that were similar to the one you're contemplating, go for it. "Most homeowners who have a good job will be happy to show it off," Holmes says.

As you contact former clients, "follow up with someone most homeowners don't think of: local suppliers," says Abram. "No one knows a contractor like their suppliers." The relationship is a good benchmark, he says.




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