Home improvement is big business. In fact, according to an Echo Research survey on behalf of American Express, roughly 72 percent of surveyed homeowners plan to undertake a home improvement project this year. Many of those people plan to make improvements to their landscape and outdoor living space and until now finding the right contractor has not always been an easy task for homeowners.
“How well your project is going to turn out largely comes down to the company you hire to do the work,” explains Bob Dallas, the chief executive officer at UltraOutdoors.com. “Take the time to make sure you are hiring a good designer and contractor that does quality work, and you will be happy with the outcome. Plus, it will add to the value of your home.”
Finding the right designer or contractor takes more than simply turning to Google or hiring the first company that answers their phone. Don’t simply trust websites that give you reviews. Often the reviews were friends of the contractor. To ensure quality work, it is important to dig a little deeper. Here are 5 tips for finding the best contractor for your home:
1. References and examples. Once you have made a list of some area designers and contractors that specialize in your type of project (UltraOutdoors.com is a good place to start) ask for references. Give the references a call and ask questions about the work that was done and how satisfied the person is. Also, see some pictures of work the company has done.
2. Interview candidates. Meet with each of the designers/contractors you are considering. Ask questions about their experience, work style, and who exactly will be doing the work (e.g., the contractor or someone else).
3. Take your time. Whether the contractor makes you feel you need to rush to make a decision or someone in your home does, try to avoid the urge to rush. Take your time in making this decision so that nothing is missed and you are comfortable with whom you choose.
4. Ask around. Once you have narrowed down to a short list of ideal candidates, find out as much as you can about each of them. Ask friends and family if they know of anyone who has had work done by that contractor. Check to see if they are a member of an association. The more info you can gather, the more it will help you to make your final decision.
5. Notice red flags. In other words, if something doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t. Red-flag issues include things like a lot of money being asked for up front, your gut instinct saying that something is wrong, being asked for cash only, or the contractor not having a physical address.
“There are many great designers & contractors out there, and a few not-so-great ones,” added Dallas. “The key to protecting your investment is to make sure you get one of the good ones. We hope that we are helping people to move one step closer to doing just that.”
UltraOutdoors.com is a site that features all things outdoor living, including over 100,000 pages and over 150,000 listings. Consumers can log on to find ideas for their outdoor living project, as well as leads to quality designers and contractors. The site covers 65 major metro areas in the U.S. and in Canada, with more being added daily. The site is owned by Manor House Publishing, a company that has published numerous luxury pool and landscaping magazines for the past 15 years. For more information, visit the site at www.UltraOutdoors.com.