How to Find the Right Contractor for Your Home Improvement Project

The time has come for your lingering home improvement project. You might have an outdated kitchen, or perhaps you'd like to add a half-bath downstairs? Or maybe there’s a pest problem happening on your property? The first question to ask yourself is: do I want to do it myself or hire someone to do it for me? 


Many people have the skills and tools to take on a DIY project of this magnitude. Others, however, don't. For those who’ve determined they need a contractor to do their home improvement project, how do they find the right one? Below are five tips that will help you narrow the field of possibilities, avoid trouble, and get the project done to your satisfaction:


Online Reviews

When researching contractors, start with the internet. You can do a basic search for 'home painter' or ‘pest control expert’ and your zip code. That will bring up the websites for popular services in your area. For example, someone searching for ‘pest control 92104’ will see the website for Joshua’s Pest Control - San Diego appear in the results. The point here isn't to find a shiny site with flashy tools; it's to learn about the company. How long have they been in business? Do they provide references or testimonials? Are there photos of their previous projects? Have they won awards in their field? How do they express their service model and goals? Once you've narrowed down your options, read further about the ones you like. Angie's List, Yelp, and local social media like Next Door or Facebook will let you know more.


Word of Mouth

Ask your friends and neighbors who they've used for their home improvement projects. Did they like the result? Would they recommend them? If your neighbor has a project done, then the company may visit the neighborhood to share information on their business.


Get Some Bids

Once you've narrowed down your search to a handful of companies, ask them to come to your house. Discuss the project, ask for their estimate, and ask for clarification. The lowest bid may be the cheapest, but it may also be the most problematic one. You might find a contractor who leaves you feeling uncomfortable; getting an estimate is a way to feel out who is professional and can work with you, and who is only interested in making money.


Home Shows

Local home shows are an excellent way to immerse yourself in the home improvement environment. You can meet many local businesses and ask them questions. They'll provide websites, flyers, and more so you can continue your research. You'll also get to test those vibes again: who seems professional? Who causes alarms to go off in your head? Listen to your instincts.



The Better Business Bureau maintains information on any company that has had compliments or complaints against it. Use their services to find companies with fewer complaints and you'll avoid serious trouble. Find businesses with positive reports from past customers. From pest control services to home inspectors, they're on record with the BBB.

These tips will help you winnow down your initial list of contractors. You'll sift out the bad ones, and the better ones will naturally rise to the top of the list. The ultimate sign that a company is a reliable one is when its name shows up using several of these tips. If the same company has good online reviews and your neighbor was pleased with their work, then you're on the right track.


Most home improvement projects need to be addressed sooner rather than later. Even if the problem isn’t an infestation or structural failure, the longer homeowners wait to make the changes, the more likely the project will include hassles and headaches. The first step forward is deciding whether you’re going to get a contractor to do the job and, if so, who to hire.