Finding a Contractor


Your choice of contractor is the single most important decision you will make during the course of your home restoration or remodel. You will essentially be recruiting the person who will enter into your private living space and serve as your right hand for several months. 


At worst, a contractor will take your deposit and never begin work on your job. At best, a good contractor will at least perform the work according to the direction you give him and finish the project. Unfortunately, the majority of contractors will err on the side of low follow-through. It may take several months to find a contractor who shares the same sense of urgency that you do.



The process of recruiting a contractor can take several months. You will, therefore, want to begin searching for potential candidates as soon as you have decided to build or remodel. Candidates may come from a variety of sources, although it is always best to start with word-of-mouth referrals. I recommend asking every person you know, as long as you are certain the source is responsible and trustworthy. The referral pool may include your doctor, attorney, accountant, realtor, neighbors, church community, family members, friends, co-workers or local lumber yard. You will soon learn that just about everyone you know has a contractor story of some kind, whether positive or negative. 


If you live in a condominium building, be sure to check with the building manager and/or property management company for contractor referrals as well. Since the management staff is onsite to observe the behavior of vendors servicing your building, they will have good perspective on which ones are respectful of the building’s rules and regulations.


Another way to locate a potential contractor is through new home development projects in your community. Procuring these candidates can be as easy as a phone call to your local Chamber of Commerce. Alternatively, simply drive through your neighborhood and note the contractor names and phone numbers displayed outside any new construction projects. Some of these leads may represent large scale developers who are not interested in taking on a project of your size. However, I still recommend making the effort of placing a few calls to these contacts, since the savvy contractor working nearby your property will recognize the advantage of taking on additional work at your geographically desirable location. They may also be kind enough to pass on some names of other contractors better suited for the size of your job.


One of the best sources of contractor referrals is your insurance company. Your insurance provider will have a list of construction companies it uses to handle home restorations due to flood, fire and other disasters. A benefit of considering these companies is that, not only do they have a track record of working with an established organization, but they are used to working within a budget under the watchful eye of the insurance claim representative. Additional sources of potential candidates include trade suppliers and organizations. The National Association of Home Builders ( and the National Association of the Remodeling Industry ( are great resources for referrals.


Try to assemble a minimum of twelve names. The more calls you are willing to make, the better your end result will be. Trust me — it is well worth the effort. In my experience, roughly 25% of the contact names did not return my phone calls, 25% didn’t show up for our appointment, and 25% never followed up with a bid after our meeting. That left three candidates who actually submitted estimates, and I was able to find a great contractor out of that small pool. 



2 Responses to “Finding a Contractor”

  1. David Logan Says:


    Can you please recommend a contractor to renovate a home in Barbados in the Caribbean? I understand that there are some Chinese workers who are looking for contract work. Can you recommend any available workers to repair a home in Barbados?

    Thank you.

    David Logan

    • harvardtohardhat Says:

      Hi David,

      I wish I could be of more help on this one, but I have not done any work outside of the U.S. That being said, you might start by contacting the National Association of Home Builders at If they can’t come up with a name, hopefully they would at least be able to point you in the right direction.

      Good luck.

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