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Now that you’ve decided what renovations need to be done, it’s time to find the right contractor for your project. But, where do you begin? How do you choose a contractor?

There are a number of approaches you can take, some good, some not so much. First, you can get out the yellow pages and select based on their ads. The problem with this is that most yellow pages ads don’t tell you much about a company. How long have they been in business? Are they reliable? Are they licensed and insured? Can they be trusted in your home?

So, how about searching on the internet? Again, you run into the same issues as with the yellow pages. Search engine results and even websites don’t tell you everything about a company. Websites are somewhat more reliable, because they probably give you more information than the phone book, perhaps even pictures of projects, but they still don’t tell you everything you need to know.

So, what do you do? There are a couple of pretty safe options. You can talk to friends and neighbors who have recently completed a similar renovation. They will usually be more than happy to give you their opinion of their contractor. Better still, check out a source such as Angie’s List ( Members post reviews of contractors (as well as other professionals) on this site, and since Angie’s List does not sell advertising  does not accept anonymous reporting, you can trust these reviews. Look for a contractor with multiple positive reviews, or, better still, look for multiple contractors with good results. Then, contact them regarding estimates.

There a several important questions you should ask a contractor, such as do they offer free estimates, does their quote include all labor and materials, what happens if something unforeseen comes up in the course of a project, do they guarantee their work (and for how long), are they licensed and insured, are their employees bonded (insures you against theft or other losses), how long will the renovation take, when will they start work, and, if a permit is required for the work, will they be responsible for obtaining it, or is this your responsibility? I’m sure you can come up with other questions, but this is a good start.

Finally, before hiring any contractor, check them out with the Better Business Bureau (  The Better Business Bureau will provide a rating from A+ to F, based on a variety of criteria, including complaints filed and their resolution, government actions, etc. They will also provide an overview of the business, including principals, business category, and products and services. Obviously, the higher the rating, the better.  For example, my friends at Evergreen Door and Window have an A+ rating – check it out (

I welcome your questions, comments, and suggestions on finding a reliable contractor for your renovation project. Share your experiences!

Rae the Renovator