At Majordomo, we want to help homeowners become the best “head steward of a household” they can be. And a big part of maintaining and improving a home involves knowing how to find and hire the right home professionals. We offer Majordomo Contacts to help connect homeowners with contractors, but doing adequate research and making the best personal choice of who to hire is up to each homeowner. Here are 10 tips to guide you through the process:
Create a list of potential professionals. For small jobs, like fixing a leaky faucet, you only need a few. But for bigger jobs, like remodels or additions, start with a list of up to a dozen and winnow it down to three to five for bids.
Bonus tip: Build an “A-Team” of preferred professionals, and favorite them using Majordomo Contacts. Just like you develop a relationship with your physician, accountant and lawyer over time, you’ll create rapport and trust with your home professional A-Team as you call on them when needs arise in their area of expertise. Remember: Relationships matter and these are skilled professionals who want to be there for you when you need help.
Check for licensing and insurance. Start by confirming each contractor has a license (if applicable in your state) and is bonded and insured. (See below for state links)
Bonus tip: If you read something negative in a professional’s license records, ask them about it. We all make mistakes – professionals and homeowners alike – and thankfully we can learn from them. Sometimes a bad situation has a happy outcome of better quality and service down the road.
Call each professional. Explain the work you need done, find out if they have experience with that kind of work, and ask about price and timeframe. For larger jobs, also inquire about work crews – do they use their own employees or hire subcontractors? – and whether any building permits will be required. Pay attention not just to the answers, but also to the company’s professionalism and communication skills.
Bonus tip: On your first call, ask the professional what their preferred communication method is. If it meshes with yours, excellent! And if not, judge whether you can work with that difference or whether it’s likely to be a problem.
Narrow the field. For a small job, the initial phone call may be all you need to choose your professional, especially if they provided a bid over the phone. If not, seek estimates from your top two or three. For bigger jobs, use the phone calls to help you select the top three to five and invite them to make an in-person bid.
Bonus tip: Decide on the two most important factors in your contractor: quality, cost, or timing. You usually can’t have all three, so knowing what matters most to you will speed up your selection process.
Evaluate bids. Medium and large project estimates should come on official company letterhead and include a detailed description of the work to be done, materials needed and the labor required. The bids should feature the same basic line items, so each one covers all aspects of the job.
Bonus tip: On smaller jobs, you may get a verbal, handwritten or email estimate. If there’s a price range, be sure you understand what it entails. And remember, not all professionals are tech savvy – but many are truly amazing craftsmen.
Don’t go by price alone. While cost is an important factor, also consider the proposed timeframe, any special considerations for the job (eg., how will landscaping or existing flooring be protected during work?), and your personal impression of the business. Trust your gut and choose the professional who seems like the best fit for your project.
Bonus tip: If there’s one thing to remember, this is it! Do not go by price alone. It’s only one piece of the equation.
Finalize the contract. For big jobs, a detailed contract is essential. It should include the business’ contact information and license number (if applicable), as well as the address where the work will be performed. There should be a detailed breakdown of the work and materials, a timeframe with start and end dates, and a payment plan. If something’s missing, work with the professional to help them provide the information you require. Respond to their requests quickly.
Bonus tip: You even want to ensure that seemingly “small” details are included, so everyone is on the same page. Don’t assume the contractor knows. Clarity is important.
Oversee the work. For small jobs, be home when the work is completed and make sure it’s done to your satisfaction. For big jobs, talk with your contractor daily, and if you notice a problem, bring it up right away. Keep records of conversations, scheduling and payments, and confirm that subcontractors and materials providers are paid by the contractor. With all jobs, take before and after photos for visual evidence of the work, especially if any problems arise.
Bonus tip: Record this information at Majordomo for safe keeping. These records will be helpful to you, the value of your home, and eventually the buyer of your home when you sell.
Pay promptly. Once you’re satisfied that the job was performed as expected, pay the invoice as soon as possible. Pay with credit card, check or an online transfer; never pay with cash. For big jobs, a deposit will likely be requested before work begins, with installments paid as work is completed.
Bonus tip: Don’t overpay early, but do make timely payments, and once you’re satisfied with the finished product, send that final balance right away.
Share the results on Majordomo. Update your home’s Domoscore. Write a review of the work, post photos, and if you’re pleased, endorse the contractor as a preferred professional. Word of mouth is the No. 1 way homeowners find professionals, so your words will make a big difference for friends, family and neighbors.
Bonus tip: After you add to your Domoscore, Majordomo will provide updated project and professional recommendations so you can continue to be the best “head steward of a household” you can be.
How to find the license status of a contractor by State:
Alabama – AL: http://genconbd.alabama.gov/database-sql/roster.aspx
Arizona - AZ: https://roc.az.gov/
Arkansas - AR: https://aclb.arkansas.gov/
California - CA: http://www.cslb.ca.gov/
Connecticut - CT: https://www.elicense.ct.gov/
Florida - FL: https://www.myfloridalicense.com/wl11.asp?mode=1
Georgia – GA:http://verify.sos.ga.gov/verification/
Hawaii - HI: https://pvl.ehawaii.gov/pvlsearch/
Indiana - IN: https://mylicense.in.gov/everification/
Kansas - KS: https://licensing.ks.gov/verification_krec/
Kentucky - KY: https://ky.joportal.com/License/Search
Louisiana - LA: http://www.lslbc.louisiana.gov/mobile-app/
Maryland - MD: https://www.dllr.state.md.us/pq/
Massachusetts - MA: https://www.mass.gov/how-to/check-a-construction-supervisor-license
Michigan - MI: https://www.lara.michigan.gov/colaLicVerify/
Minnesota - MN: https://secure.doli.state.mn.us/lookup/licensing.aspx
Missouri - MO: https://renew.pr.mo.gov/licensee-search.asp
Nebraska - NE: https://dol.nebraska.gov/conreg/Search
New Hampshire - NH: https://nhlicenses.nh.gov/verification/Search.aspx?facility=%27Y%27
New Mexico - NM: https://public.psiexams.com/search.jsp
North Carolina - NC: https://nclbgc.org/search/license
North Dakota - ND: https://apps.nd.gov/sc/busnsrch/busnSearch.htm
Oregon - OR: https://www.ccb.state.or.us/search/
Pennsylvania - PA: https://www.pals.pa.gov/#/page/default
Rhode Island - RI: http://www.crb.ri.gov/search.php
South Dakota - SD: https://sosenterprise.sd.gov/BusinessServices/Business/FilingSearch.aspx
Tennessee - TN: http://verify.tn.gov/
Texas - TX: https://www.tdlr.texas.gov/LicenseSearch/
Virginia - VA: http://www.dpor.virginia.gov/LicenseLookup/
Washington - WA: https://secure.lni.wa.gov/verify/
West Virginia - WV: http://www.wvlabor.com/new_searches/contractor_search_new.cfm
Wisconsin - WI: https://app.wi.gov/licensesearch
Wyoming - WY: https://wyomuni.org/members/