Looking to Hire a Contractor? What You Should Know

Aug 9, 2022, 16:00 PM

‘Tis the seasons that many may decide to embark on home renovations, while the weather permits you to do so. There are hundreds of options laid out in front of you, so it can be a tricky task to weed through all the businesses and find the right contractor to meet your needs.

Whether you’re trying to avoid a common mistake, like adding unnecessary water lines for portable kitchen appliances, putting a ceiling fan above your brand-new custom soaker tub, not having proper clearance around your heat-emitting kitchen appliances, choosing the wrong paint for your surfaces or relying too heavily on duct tape or gorilla glue to “fix” something to save money, a professional home contractor can help you avoid these sometimes inconvenient, and sometimes costly, mistakes.

Painting and sanding hardware on drop cloth on window sill


Max Anderson from porch.com, an online marketplace connecting homeowners to contractors said, in an NPR.org interview, that “in the last three months, the company has tracked 330 million U.S. Google searches for home improvement work — that's up almost 50% from the same period last year. Gardening is the type of home improvement up the most, but the projects range all over the home, inside and out.”

Anderson also says that “just over 3 out of 4 homeowners whom Porch.com surveyed have completed a major project since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and roughly the same percentage have one on the drawing board.”

The first step is to determine what you really need done vs. what you want done and what you can afford. It might seem like the easy way out to choose to hire a cheaper contractor that can do it all within your budget, but as you’ll see below, there are some dangers in doing that. Don’t underestimate the importance of doing your own research and familiarizing yourself with the work that is going to be done to your home. Knowing your stuff before you get on the phone helps prevent a potential bad apple from scamming you. And remember that Google reviews, Facebook recommendations, and social media sites, like Houzz are a great resource to read about real customer experiences to help you hire a contractor.

freshly painted white wall with ladder, paint roller and paint can on hardwood floor


Remember, that you are not obligated to hire a contractor during the first phone call, so a good start is to write out all your questions and pick five contractors, based on your research or word of mouth referral, to call and get started. Determine how familiar they are with the type of job you want to hire them for, how long they have been working, how many times they have done the specific project before and ask any specifics about the job.

Here are some other important things to keep in mind:

Proper Licensing & Permits

What are the required permits and bylaws associated with home renovations in {insert your city or here}? If you don’t know these, check online or call your municipality to get more information on what certification the home contractor needs before they legally work on your home. Make sure you ask about their insurance during your initial telephone interview to hire a contractor. If they don’t have the permit or license, they should be willing and offer to get it if they want the job. Never take out the permit for them because this can place liability on your shoulders if they decide to break the rules.

Level of Experience

Back in 2016, it was known, within the home reno industry, as the summer of “Tailgate contractors”

dirty unfinished room under renovation with blue plastic curtain and paint stains


Essentially, these home contractors don’t have the same experience as more seasoned workers. This usually results in them being cheaper to hire, but it can also sometimes mean they are more willing to bend the rules. It might seem fantastic that you can get a contractor for way cheaper, but it’s important to consider why they can offer their service at such a reduced cost. Similar consideration to when you go into a store to buy a really nice purse or jacket and the price is “cheap” ... is it real? Is it from a sweatshop? Some of these things aren’t pleasant to think about, when you’d rather think about the cost savings, but it’s important to make these considerations when it comes to hiring a contractor to work on your home.


Without proper insurance, you, the homeowner is liable for anything that goes wrong during the work. That’s not to say that it will, but it could and taking that chance probably isn’t worth saving a few bucks.

Work or Good Work?

Contractor using power drill to install corner bracket on wood, wearing neon green glove and watch on left arm

Take a moment to consider the workmanship. Is your job a job that needs to be aesthetically pleasing or just a functional upgrade? This is one of those cases where you might not get what you pay for. Or you might get exactly what you pay for and that could be scary when it comes to the value of your home. Consider what it is that you want and which individual or company is your best bet to get your vision executed properly when you hire a contractor.

21Oak, a trusted source on guiding homeowners and renters with inspiration, tips, advice and offering direction surveyed DIY-ers about what went wrong during their self-renovations, and here were a few of the most common mistakes.

Having to redo something you did wrong (44%)

Spilling paint (39%)

Using the wrong tool (33%)

Ordering the wrong materials (29%)

Kids or pets getting in the way (29%)

Black hammer laying on piece of wood with many bent and broken nails


More serious mistakes were also reported by a quarter of survey respondents. Of those, the some of the biggest errors made were:

Breaking something valuable or sentimental (48%)

Serious injury (47%)

Realizing the project was done wrong after completion (47%)

Starting a fire (44%)

Falling off a roof or ladder (44%)

Everyone likes to save money and DIY sometimes, but at the end of the day the costs for hiring a professional contractor are far less from the beginning than if they must come in and fix something that you made worse trying to do it yourself. Prevention is always better and cheaper than costly emergency repairs. Remember to protect yourself, and your home, when you hire a contractor, by coming to the table with research, questions and some expert knowledge about the project.

Marketplace Events produces some of the longest-running shows across North America, connecting enthusiasts with experts, products and services in dynamic face-to-face environments. We produce more than 70 consumer shows annually across Canada and the USA. Currently, the shows attract 22,000 exhibitors, 1.9 million attendees and another three mullion unique web visitors annually. Attendees can speak to multiple exhibitors – no matter your home or garden project – and get inspiration to ensure their project is perfect. Looking to find a home contractor for your next big renovation or upgrade? Check out a nearby show.