Hiring a contractor: when to hire one, and what you need to know

Elias Hubbard
November 4, 2020



Although our initial instinct might be that by tackling home improvement and other building projects by ourselves, we can save time and money, there are inevitably going to be times when you need to hire some extra help. No matter how seasoned a DIYer you are, unless you are a fully qualified professional, it is likely that you will hit this limit sooner than you think.


Why should you hire a contractor?

 There are three main reasons why you would hire a contractor: expertise, efficiency and cost.

 Although the first of these seems relatively obvious, the last two are often overlooked by overeager home improvement enthusiasts. It is often assumed that doing work yourself rather than hiring a contractor will save you money, but for more difficult jobs in particular, the opposite is most often the case. This is because tackling a job yourself often leads to delays and unexpected costs, which will cost you in the long run. Furthermore, if a job is not completed to a fully professional standard, you might have to undertake remedial or repair work in the future.

 Another equally important, though often overlooked, factor in deciding to hire a contractor is that it will often save you a huge amount of stress in the long run. Doing home improvement or construction works by yourself can be a very stressful process, and hiring a dedicated professional is a good way to avoid this completely.


When should I hire a contractor?

 As a general rule of thumb, the more complex a task is, the more necessary it is to hire a contractor. While simple construction work might be well within the limits of your expertise, more complex projects or jobs with a high degree of risk will usually require a dedicated contractor who is fully certified and insured to undertake the job.


Plumbing and electric work are good examples of jobs that are worth getting in a contractor for. Electrical and wiring work, for example, is very complex and has a high degree of risk associated with it if things go wrong. As such, any job involving this kind of work will be worth hiring a contractor for.


What to look out for in a contractor

One of the first things you need to look out for when trying to choose a contractor is their previous experience. What experience is relevant to you will depend entirely on the nature of the job you have in mind. While it might be relatively easy to find a contractor to do smaller, run-of-the-mill construction jobs, finding someone who can tackle bigger projects can often be difficult.

As such, when you are trying to pin down the perfect contractor, make sure that you get a sense of the projects they have previously been involved in. Look for someone who has experience of a similar-scale project, as well as a track record of success with that type of work. Looking up some of their previous clients is a good way of doing this, and it also gives you an opportunity to reach out to them for a referral.

Another important thing to look out for is a contractor who will give you a fair and accurate fee assessment. Be wary of fixed-rate project offerings as these can often entail hidden costs that only reveal themselves halfway into the project. And remember, don’t be afraid to shop around and get a few quotes from different contractors before committing to one.

A final important thing to look out for is the certifications and professional insurance they have in place. These will usually be easy to find, and a contractor who keeps things above board won’t usually be hesitant to show these to you. To add some extra protection, you can always add to your required coverage and take out some additional contractors insurance. This will give you a little bit of extra peace of mind as the project gets underway.


Finding the right contractor

When it comes time to make the final decision on which contractor you want to hire, more often than not, a simple Google search won’t help you find the perfect one. Although online reviews can help steer you in the right direction, it is also important to reach out to personal contacts and try to get some word-of-mouth recommendations. This will help you verify the reviews of certain contractors you have come across online.



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