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Contractor Hiring Guide

Do you want to avoid getting SCREWED when hiring a contractor?

Use the following SECRET tips below.

Hack #1 Write out exactly what you want done and what you expect to be done on a piece of paper. Give this to each of the contractors who comes to give you a bid. Don't assume the contractor will do what you think he should do.

Get FREE bids below.

Hack#2 Make as many product selections as possible before the contractors come to give bids. Allowances created by contractors for products can be low. Unethical contractors put LOW allowances in their bids as a trick to keep their bid prices low.

Hack#3 Be sure the contractor can prove he's got years of experience, at least ten, and can prove he knows what he's doing. Make him give you a copy of his Certificate of Insurance.

Hack #4 Do NOT pay any money in advance unless your job requires SPECIAL ORDER materials. Contractors don't pay their help in advance, they don't pay for regular materials in advance, so why should you pay them in advance? Only pay for work done that's satisfactory. Do NOT pay the last 15% of the job until ALL WORK is complete and to your satisfaction. No excuses ever.

Hack #5 Be sure you put everything the contractor says he'll do in the written contract. NEVER trust the spoken word. A professional contractor will NOT be offended if you ask her/him to put something in writing.


CLICK HERE for any Handyman work. FREE & FAST BIDS from LOCAL handymen!


Basement Remodel Bath Remodel Electric Work
Furnace Repair/Install Hardwood Flooring Heat Pump
House Painting Insulation Kitchen Remodeling
Garage Remodeling Patio Enclosure Plumbing Work
Roofing / Asphalt Room Addition Sunroom Addition
Vinyl Siding Window Replacement DECK Work 



15 Responses to Contractor Hiring Guide

  1. Tim,

    Great stuff, as always!

    Could you make your columns easier to print? I often like to print them off and put them in a "Home Improvement" binder for future reference, but the format is currently ungainly and all of the ads print.

  2. Where I lived most "painting contractors" can not read. They have no reserve money. They owe Home Depot and have no credit. None are recognized by Better Business Bureau. All are fly by night. Most have no city licence. They need an advance to buy a brush. The Boondocks are awful. What is one to do?

  3. When the embedded marketing for an unidentified third party vendor (in this case, home advisor) promises, in your column: "CLICK ANY LINK BELOW TO GET FREE FAST BIDS", it would wise to consider how such a vendor might besmirch the otherwise positive nature of your website. As instructed, I clicked on a job type, answered all questions, and 45 minutes later, the image of a rotating circular icon was still circulating, with no BIDS or suggested contractors, anywhere in sight. I will admit, the experience was, indeed, FREE (and Lord knows I got my money's worth). But...FAST? It is more like USELESS. Please also consider informing your followers that that referral service comes from Home Advisor, and not your organization, as that will more appropriately let us know what to expect. Thank you.

    • Paul,

      I'm sorry your computer locked up. It's probably a RAM memory issue. It could also have been an ISP issue or some other blockage in the pipeline.

      The FAST refers to the fact that once you do complete the form at HomeAdvisor you *should* hear from contractors within 24 hours.

      It's very obvious that once you click the links you're at HomeAdvisor. It's impossible for me to identify the final location of every ad you see at my website.

      You get the content at my website for free. The entire operation is supported by ad and affiliate revenue. It's impossible, and unrealistic, for me to investigate every sponsor's ad that appears on the site. You, as a consumer, have to exercise due diligence before investing your money for anything you are connected to from my website.

      That's the bargain you make with me when you cull knowledge, tips and money-saving ideas from AsktheBuilder.com. You can read all about it here:


      • Owned!

        Your tenacity for truth is a breath of fresh air.

        I think your approach is spot-on. I appreciate the way you handled the details regarding the observation of local codes and how there certainly are cases where the government's best intentions may not account for those of us who still care to take pride in our work and get things done. You did not mince words and leave no questions about what procedures to follow or laws to observe in any particular case. Your undeniable confidence and skill can only be the result of many decades of hard work and dedication to whatever life may throw at you. It is self-evident that the key to success is never turned once just to be thrown away or forgotten, but rather it is a tool that will be used throughout life. Never stop learning, and value the correction received from others while being adept and observant to ones accomplishments or mistakes.

        Run for president.

    • Home Advisor referred a scumbag contractor to me. Home Advisor told me that they did a background check on all their contractors and even told me that if I ever had any problems with one of their contractors, to contact them and they would "make it right" even if it meant hiring someone else to fix the issue. Well, I had BIG, BIG issues after I hired one of their referals. When I contacted Home Advisor they renegged on their promises and said that they are "just a referral service". I ended up having to sue the scum bag contractor. I got 2 judgments against his companies but they are worthless because he has no assets and has completely disappeared and his insurance refused to cover it because the scumbag did not give them proper notice. I am out tens of thousands of dollars because of Home Advisor. I would have been better off throwing a dart at a phone book vs. using Home Advisor's referral. Run for your life, or expect to be out tens of thousands of dollars like I am.

  4. I used a contractor from Home Advisor only to get ripped off.
    HA claims they do background checks, BUT ONLY GO BACK 3 YEARS!
    When I checked, he had a criminal (theft) charge 4 years prior.

  5. Kathy,

    How's this possible? Please share details of what happened. I don't see how it's possible if you followed the advice in the five HACKS above. If it was a workmanship issue and/or he didn't finish the work, you're to blame for that. You're always supposed to hold onto enough money to ensure the job is done correctly. What happened?

  6. I really enjoy your emails. So helpful and interesting. I've learned a lot since I subscribed to your newsletter. Your daughter is a sharp girl - suggesting that you go back to your older files. There are many of us that have never read them.

  7. Hi Tim! Gotta say, your Hack #1 is the wisest and most profound thing I've read in awhile. In fact, I wrote it out on a piece of paper and taped it up over my desk so I'll see it every day. Thinking back on all the two dozen or so contractors and subcontractors I've met since 2013 when I became a homeowner, Hack #1 would have saved me from the two bad apples I hired, not to mention all the hours I spent listening to a whole bunch of timewasting sales guys! Speaking of sales guys, for those of us who tend to get upsold, or who have a hard time saying no, having that piece of paper firmly in hand is a great way to stay on track!

    Thanks again for all your great advice, and for your positive attitude and encouragement to us newbies.

  8. Hello,
    I have a house in Calgary and want to get my living room ceiling vaulted. Any idea where I could find an engineer who does the structural calculations and drawings for me?

    Thank you

  9. Bett,

    I'm going to assume your name is really Beth or Brett, but I could be wrong. First and foremost, I'm sorry for your horrible experience.

    But it's time for some tough love. Your anger is misdirected. You shouldn't be upset at HomeAdvisor.

    You should be upset at yourself for not doing your due diligence. You pushed that off onto HomeAdvisor. You HOPED that what they said was true.

    That's a mistake. Go back up and look at the five tips I offer.

    You made a CRITICAL mistake by not following my advice in HACK #4. See where it says: "Only pay for work done that's satisfactory."

    Why would you have paid this contractor "tens of thousands of dollars" if you were unhappy with his work?

    Did you also goof up and give him a huge deposit up front?

    Money is your ONLY LEVERAGE. You must always control the money. A professional contractor will rarely disagree with your payment schedule because she/he KNOWS they'll produce quality and you'll be happy.

    I hate to say it, but your misery is all yours. You own all of it.

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