How to find good contractors
Finding good contractors is not always easy. In fact, most rehabbers will tell you that it is one of the biggest ongoing challenges in their business. Even a contractor that starts out good may not perform so well after multiple jobs. In this article, we will explore various ways to go about meeting potential contractors for your rehab projects. In future articles we will talk about what questions and criteria should be used for selecting the very best ones.
The most obvious way to find good contractors is to constantly be asking for references from anyone that might be knowledgeable about the subject. The best starting point is to ask the most successful active rehabbers in your market. I guarantee you they have many stories about the good, the bad and the ugly. Generally speaking, if you have helped these people in their business, they should be happy to share resources with you too. These people can be found at your local REIA’s, so make sure you are attending them regularly and effectively networking. Real estate agents and brokers are also a great source for contractor leads, particularly if they specialize in property types that might have a greater chance of needing work. I like to network with agents and brokers that have significant experience and track record with REO’s, short sales, distressed properties, probates and tax lien properties. Not only can they find you great deals in many cases, but they also know contractors from their time on the job. Insurance agents, property managers and title officers are all in the business and may have leads for you. As a fix/flipper, it is imperative to keep a stable of good contractors available to you at all times, so never stop asking for referrals.
Here are a few more ideas and strategies for finding good contractors. I have used my architect and structural engineers for referring me to contractors that they had positive experiences working with. Supply stores, both large and small, are also a good source for contractor leads, so make sure you establish good rapport with these people, and then don’t be shy about asking for contractor referrals. Think about it, somebody that is selling cabinets to lots of contractors probably has a good sense of who the better contractors might be to work with. Another strategy is to look for projects in the same area of your project, then stop and introduce yourself and interview the contractor for potential new business in the area. These are just a few ideas that have worked for me. The key is to never forget about asking for these referrals, because you never know when you will need your next great contractor.
One last point to consider is that the most important quality in a contractor should be their integrity. Without integrity, nothing else matters and your life will be hell. Integrity is not always obvious and sometimes hard to assess. Verbal promises and statements should be verified and validated by other sources. Taking the time to do your due diligence, including confirming their license/insurance and thoroughly checking references is well worth the time investment. Don’t skip this step or the time and costs to fix a bad contractor job will be an education you will never forget!