Whether you’re in Katy, Houston, New York City, or Los Angeles, good home contractors are hard to come by. It’s easy to find a contractor, but finding one who is going to treat you fairly, do good work, respect your budget, and follow a timeline can feel nearly impossible.
While there are no guarantees, we’re going to show you some practical steps you can take to improve your chances of finding good home contractors to work on your primary residence and/or rental properties.
Why Are Good Contractors So Hard to Find?
This is a question that so many people have, and the answer is multifaceted.
Let’s preface this discussion by making one thing clear: All contractors are not bad, nor do they all do poor quality work. There are good contractors in every city, including Katy. The problem is that there are dozens that do low quality work at high prices with unreliable service. And they give the rest of the industry a bad name. With that caveat aside, let’s explore the original question in further detail.
Good contractors are hard to find because:
- There’s a relatively low barrier to entry into the industry. (If you have a few tools and a willingness to work, you can bill yourself as a contractor.)
- Fewer young people are being trained up in physical labor and real-life skills. More and more people are pursuing college degrees as opposed to attending trade schools or apprenticing other professionals. This means there’s a smaller talent pool for good contractors.
- Contractors are in high demand, but the business can also be hot and cold. That means they tend to take every job thrown their way – even if it means giving less attention to the clients already on their docket.
There are a variety of other reasons, but these three stand out. And the problem is further exacerbated by the fact that even bad contractors know how to sound like good ones when they offer estimates or meet homeowners for the first time. So as a homeowner, it’s challenging to decipher who is who.
7 Tips for Finding a Good Katy Home Contractor
As you search for a good Katy home contractor to work on your property, here are some tips and tactics you can leverage to filter out the bad apples and find the right fit for your project.
1. Get Referrals From People You Trust
You want to avoid picking contractors out of the blue. Even starting your search online can be a bit messy. The best approach is to ask for referrals.
When asking for referrals, tap people in your own network. This may include neighbors, friends, family, or coworkers. But also make sure you’re asking people whose opinions you trust. Anybody can give out a referral – do you trust the person giving it?
2. Do a Quick Phone Interview
You can save yourself (and the contractor) a lot of time by doing a quick phone interview before calling them out to give you an estimate in person. This Old House general contractor Tom Silva suggests asking the following questions:
- Do they take on projects of your size?
- Are they willing to provide financial references, from suppliers or banks?
- Can they give you a list of previous clients?
- How many other projects would they have going at the same time?
- How long have they worked with their subcontractors?
This last question is especially important. You can hire a contractor you love, but will he actually be doing the work? There’s not anything wrong with subcontracting, but you want to know if this is the path he’ll be taking. And if so, are the subcontractors qualified and reliable?
3. Meet Face-to-Face
If a contractor from a trusted referral checks out on the phone, call them out to do an in-person, onsite estimate. Not only does this allow them to put eyeballs on the project, but it also lets you shake their hand, look them in the eye, and get a feel for who they are. If your gut tells you something is off, trust it.
4. Speak to Past Clients
The next step is to speak to past clients. The contractor should be able to provide some contacts or show you some of his work. If he’s unwilling to provide names, this is a sign that he might not have satisfied clients with good work.
5. Get Bids
Generally speaking, it’s a smart idea to get at least three quotes from different contractors. This will help you get a feel for different approaches, prices, and styles. And don’t be surprised if their rates are all over the place. (If the rates are all pretty consistent, you can feel pretty good about the fact that you’re getting an honest “going rate.”)
6. Check Licenses
Make sure any contractor you work with is licensed and insured. They should be able to provide you with their numbers to show that they are who they say they are. A failure to provide documentation when asked is a good enough reason to work with someone else.
7. Avoid Following the Price
Let’s say you have three quotes come in for a project:
- Quote #1: $2,500
- Quote #2: $4,700
- Quote #3: $6,100
It’s easy to look at those numbers and be swayed to go with Quote #1, but proceed with caution! The lowest price isn’t always the best quality. When someone quotes low, it’s typically because they need the job and/or don’t have the experience to command higher rates.
While not always true, you’d probably want to consider Quote #2 and Quote #3. Ideally, the middle quote is the one you go with. However, if you feel like the contractor for the third quote does better work and sounds more trustworthy, don’t be afraid to spend more. As the saying goes, you get what you pay for.
Green Residential: Katy’s Real Estate Leader
At Green Residential, we know the Houston real estate market better than almost anyone else. With decades of industry experience, our family-owned business is here to help. When you use our comprehensive property management services, we handle all maintenance and repair requests for you – which includes scheduling reliable and trustworthy contractors. This frees up your time and energy to focus on the things that matter most.
For more information on our property management services, please contact us today!