Even before the pandemic, the United States had a shortage of qualified contractors. Canada also faced a similar situation. However, supply chain issues and the changing economy have made hiring for home remodeling and repair projects harder – and it’s likely to worsen.
What’s a homeowner to do? BBB has the following tips if you are still looking for a contractor for your home improvement project.
Hiring a contractor during a shortage
- Understand the challenges. It’s typical for specialized subcontractors, such as electricians, to prefer to work for general contractors. That means they can get repeat work instead of depending on one-time projects. Your project may not be high on a contractor’s priority list. Accepting this fact and knowing your search may take time can ease some of your stress.
- Be prepared to pay more. Be realistic when it comes to how much your project will cost. Don’t be surprised if bids on your project are considerably more expensive than what you would have expected it to cost pre-pandemic. Being willing to pay more for materials and quality work will make you more attractive to contractors.
- Be a good communicator. If you communicate clearly and create a comfortable working environment for contractors, they will be more willing to take on your project.
- Find contractors by asking other contractors. Beyond asking your friends, neighbors, and family members for recommendations, you can also ask for references from contractors you know. For example, if you’re looking for an electrician, ask your plumber if they can recommend someone.
- Be flexible with evening and weekend work. You may be able to find a contractor who is moonlighting while working a 9 am-5 pm, Monday-Friday job. Perhaps this person is building up a client base before starting their own business, or they simply want the extra income.
- Start looking before you need someone. If your neighbor gets a stellar kitchen remodel from a quality contractor, get their contact information, even if you aren’t planning a kitchen remodel. This contact information can reduce your search time when you are ready to hire a contractor.
- Check with a national association. If word of mouth doesn’t get you any results, try using a pro-finder tool on the National Association of Home Builders or the National Association for the Remodeling Industry. Remember, you’ll still need to check out individual contractors you find on these sites before you hire them, such as looking at their profile on BBB.org.
- Do a background check. Once you have a candidate or two, ask the contractor for proof of insurance and licensure. You can also look them up on BBB.org to check their licensure, see their business rating and read customer reviews and complaints.
- Don’t make a hasty decision. Hiring just anyone who says they’ll accept the job can be tempting if you’ve been searching for weeks or months already. Still, it’s best to wait until you find a qualified professional with a good business reputation. If you don’t and things go awry, there won’t be much you can do to get your money back or the damages repaired.