Everyone has heard horror stories about contractors. Although the majority of contractors are dependable and honest, occasionally one will come along that Is the exact opposite. They’ll come on as knowledgeable, trustworthy, and reliable but do a complete one-eighty once that contract is signed. From projects dragging on for months past the deadline, to hidden fees and charges, and even contractors disappearing with your money, there’s no limit to the scams that these scoundrels come up with.

We’re here to protect you from these types of situations. We’ve interviewed industry professionals to find out what benefits and safety nets the industry-leading companies offer to ensure that projects go smoothly and to ensure their clients have peace of mind throughout the process. We’ve also asked homeowners who have plenty of experience working with construction companies about signs they look for in their contractors that indicate that they can be trusted. This blog post brings together these ideas and will teach you how to properly research your construction company or contractor. It will also show you characteristics and policies that the top companies have which sleazy companies don’t. This will inform you so that you can choose the best one for your project and be confident that you made the right decision.

Experience

Make sure that your project manager is experienced. Ask them about their background, and make sure they have been working in the industry for several years. Have them show you previous projects they have completed and explain their process in detail. Ask for references and go on social media and google to read reviews to get an idea of what their customers think of them. If they are local or even grew up in the area, then that is a sure sign they are consistently reliable and have spent years building a reputation of success.

Referrals

Referrals from friends or family that you know and trust are an indicator that they had a good experience with the company. This is a sign that things will go smoothly for you as well.  

Insurance

A sure sign of a legitimate company is that they have liability insurance in case anything goes wrong. All the high-end trustworthy companies have insurance policies so they their customers don’t get left out to dry if things go south. If the company doesn’t offer insurance, turn around and walk away.

Payment Plans

Any reputable company will have payment plan options available to their customers. 10% down initially for the project is the normal competitive rate that a reliable company will present to you. If it is higher, such as in the 40%-50% range, then they are looking out for their best interest and not yours by asking for too much money up front. Steer clear of the company.

Consistent Personnel 

What a lot of customers look for is when doing any kind of home renovation is consistency. Will the person that sells them the project be the same person who oversees the entire process? People don’t appreciate building up a relationship with a salesman only to be handed off to a complete stranger of a project manager after their contract is signed. The trust you had built with the person who started the process is gone and the path forward can be full of doubt. Working with the same person from start to finish is the best way to ensure consistency of reliability.

Design

A sure sign of an experienced contractor is the level of planning and design they do for your project. The best companies will put a lot of effort into the planning phase and present you with detailed blueprints as well as a 3-D computer generated design that they can walk you through on the computer in real time. If your contractor brings a few pages of sub-par designs, that is a sign that their lack of effort in the planning phase will translate into a lack of effort in the building phase as well. 

Warranty 

A reliable company will have a warranty for the customer’s project to ensure the customer is covered for any kind of repairs needed for a certain number of years after the project is completed. A solid warranty will last you 3-5 years.

Responsiveness

Responsiveness and availability are sure signs of a trustworthy project manager. Do they answer your texts? Do they return your phone calls in a timely manner? If the contractor is hard to get in touch with before the project has even started, it’s only going to get worse if you move forward with them.

Website and Social Media

An extensive and professional looking website is a sure sign of a reputable company. Modern websites are costly to create and maintain. Having a professional looking website shows that a company is successful at what they do and has the resources to maintain a website and strives to keep a respectable online image of themselves.  Additionally, active social media accounts show that the company enjoys interacting with their former and potential customers.

Spending thousands of dollars and making drastic changes to your home is a big decision. Take the time to properly research the companies you are considering. Stick to the principles in this guide to make the best-informed decision so you can be confident in your choice from start to finish.