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We’ve all heard those horror stories of bad contractors.
Or maybe you’ve had the misfortune of hiring one yourself…
They don’t show up on time, work half-heartedly, leave things unfinished, and are a complete pain. Not to mention any ‘extra’ costs that always seem to arise!
I’ve been there too, and it sure isn’t fun.
Instead of suffering with a bad contractor, I’ve written this guide to help you find the right person to hire for your job.
Someone you can trust. At a price you feel is fair. And for work that is guaranteed.
I’ll walk you through comparing nationwide vs. local services, the pitfalls of hiring via a marketplace, how to find someone better yourself, and how to ensure you’re treated fairly for a good price.
If that sounds good, then let’s get started!
Nationwide vs. Local Services
When it comes to hiring a contractor, there’s two main options to choose from:
- Hiring a nationwide service. This is a huge brand that serves the whole country – like Sears Home Services.
- Hiring a local service. These are local businesses or even individual handymen.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the pros and cons of each:
|Hiring local means you’ll get to know the contractor and can call on them again.
|Assurances for a certain standard. Reliably good quality.
|Quality is more uncertain – it depends on the contractor. Higher chance of poor quality work if you don’t know the company.
|Longer and more secure guarantees on work quality.
|Sometimes just as good, but often less or no guarantee of the work.
|Can take a few days or longer. Need to book into their system.
|Can be quicker. They are local and potentially will come out the same day.
|Often more reliable. These large companies often run on better systems and have larger teams.
|Can be less reliable. A small business is easier to be interrupted.
|No relationship to build – it’s a massive brand.
|Hiring local means you’ll get to know the contractor, and can call on them again.
|Generally higher prices
|Generally lower prices
Summary: Nationwide vs. Local Contractors
At the end of the day, a nationwide repair service will offer you better reliability and guarantee better work. However, you’ll typically pay a higher price with them. I recommend going with a large nationwide service if you don’t have time to search and want to make sure the job gets done properly.
On the other hand, a local service CAN be just as good, quicker, and even better quality. You can also get to know them and work with them again in the future. The downside to a local service is that there’s a higher chance things can go wrong.
I recommend going with a local contractor if you have time to review all the local listings, call a bunch of them, and get multiple quotes to repair. Ask around to see who your neighbors and local community like to use. This can be great for saving money and finding a local service you can rely on.
If you don’t have the time for all of that, I’d go with a nationwide service. It’s much easier to book a job with them and know it’ll be covered and guaranteed.
Marketplaces vs. Searching Yourself
At first, these service marketplaces appear very attractive. But I wanted to give you a word of caution:
- Large marketplaces for home services often look flashy and attractive, but they are far from perfect.
- While they will show you contractors with great reviews, the marketplaces leave customers with many bad experiences. See the Trustpilot pages for examples: Angi, Porch.
- They have been reported paying contractors as little as 40% of your quote. This means your contractor is hardly making a buck, which often doesn’t lead to good work quality.
- The contractors they recommend often have great reviews on their marketplace. But make sure to check their Google reviews too. Sometimes it’s a different story!
I’m not saying you shouldn’t ever use these marketplaces – they are a great service if you want a quick recommendation.
If you have the time, I would find and contact local contractors yourself. By working directly you’ll get a lower price, which means the contractor will be paid in full. Which means they’ll be extra motivated to do a good job for you!
How to Find a Great Local Contractor
Okay. You’ve decided you want to find a good local contractor, and you don’t want to go via a marketplace.
So how do you do it? Well, get a pen and paper ready because it’s time to do some research!
- First, I recommend just using Google Maps. Navigate to your area and search for what you need, for example, “Appliance Repair” or “HVAC Contractor.”
- Click through the various options. Look for businesses with 4.5 stars or higher and a good number of reviews (at least 30 or so).
- Visit their website and make sure they seem legitimate. Note down their name and contact number.
- Repeat until you have a good number of options.
A note on Google Reviews: Unfortunately, some businesses have started to create fake reviews to boost their reputation. This is true on Google and every other platform with reviews.
To check if they are using fake reviews, there’s a few tell-tale signs you can watch out for:
- They will have a LOT of 5-star reviews within a short period. For example, they might have had a ton of reviews when the company started, but much fewer (and more negative) reviews recently.
- Many of their 5-star reviews are generic or will have no text. Like “What a great service!”.
- Real reviews often mention a staff member who helped them or a personal connection with the business.
If you spot any signs of 1. or 2., proceed with caution! But if lots of reviews are recent and seem real and personable, that’s a great sign.
What to Ask a Contractor
Here’s a few tips I use when calling a contractor:
- Never agree to a job on the first phone call. You’re only calling for a quote estimate.
- This means you will always hang up without agreeing on a price, which keeps the negotiation power with you. You can’t be pressured into agreeing then and there.
- Feel free to let them know you’ll call around and get back to them.
- Ask what guarantees they have on their work. Will they leave you a guarantee, and how long will it last?
- Ask when they are available to do the repair. Could it be today, or will you need to wait until next week?
- [Optional] Ask if you can provide your parts. This can save you a lot of money (and save them time or hassle of getting you the right part).
Call a few contractors and note down their answers. Then select the one you like best!
A Note on Buying Your Own Parts
When a contractor conducts a repair for you, their parts will come with a markup.
This depends on the company, but sometimes you could be charged a lot of money for a $10 part! It’s an easy way for shady companies to increase the quote.
If you know which part needs replacing, you can use appliance part stores to find the part you need – and buy it yourself.
The catch is that some contractors refuse to work with the parts you’ve bought. This is for their protection, as if the part fails in future, it could make them look bad. Though this varies by contractor, many will be happy to install a part for you.
If you know which part you need and find it online, be sure to ask the contractor if they don’t mind using your part. It could end up saving you a good few bucks!
Just Want To Ask An Expert Questions?
If these tips haven’t helped – don’t worry. There may be other quick fixes you can try.
We’re fortunate enough to have a lot of readers on this website, but unfortunately, I can’t answer everyone’s questions personally. To help, we’ve teamed up with JustAnswer to connect you to a qualified expert.
Using the service below, you’ll be taken to a platform where you can message or call appliance, HVAC, and other experts. They’ll be able to guide you through what’s going on, whether you need a replacement part, and how to install it (if you want to do that).
You can connect with an appliance expert below, who will help you solve your specific issue. They do charge a small trial fee, but you can cancel the trial if you don’t want to have access to their experts in the future.
I hope this quick guide has helped give you more confidence in finding a professional you can trust!
As a recap:
- If you want to save time and peace of mind, call a nationwide service like Sears Home Services.
- If you want to save money, get a job done quicker, and build a working relationship – look for a local service.
- Where possible, hire directly and compare multiple options against each other.
If you’re still in doubt, check our ‘Repair Cost’ lists with estimates for how much you should expect a repair to cost.
And search our website for the symptoms you’re experiencing. For example, if you search for “Dishwasher Buzzing” you’ll find our article that covers all the possible causes. There might even be a simple DIY fix you can try!
Lastly, if you’re really stuck, shoot us a message via our contact page! I can try to confirm if you’ve found a good contractor or price, or even if you can fix the problem yourself.
Have a great day,