How to Choose a Residential Contractor

When tasked with choosing a residential contractor, there are steps you can take to verify that the contractor is properly licensed and has the experience required to efficiently perform the task you hire them for. Using the proper resources, you can research the professional background of a residential contractor and compare their fees and services to others in their profession. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can choose an ideal residential contractor that best suits your needs.


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    Seek referrals for residential contractors. You can seek referrals from friends and family members, consumer protection agencies, or organizations that train or regulate contractors.
    • Visit the Better Business Bureau (BBB) website featured in the Sources section of this article, or call the BBB for feedback on a particular contractor at 1-703-276-0100 in the United States or at 514-905-3893 in Canada. (Though this point in case of USA Builders only)
    • Consult with an organization that focuses on improving or that regulates the business of contracting, such as the National Association of Home Builders. Organizations such as these may provide you with the contact information for reputable contractors who belong to the organization.
    • Verify that the residential contractor who was referred to you worked on a task similar to the task you are hiring them for. For example, if you need to choose a residential contractor to work on your roof, you may not want to hire a residential contractor who specializes in installing air conditioning systems.
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    Verify if the residential contractor has a license as required by law. Some states or regions may require residential contractors to obtain a license prior to practicing contracting business.
    • Consult with your state or region's licensing regulator to determine if a contracting license is required by law to practice business.
    • Visit the "Contractor's License" website provided to you in the Sources section of this article, then click directly on your state. You will then be taken to a webpage that indicates if a license is required by the state, as well as contact information for the contracting regulator.
    • Ask the residential contractor to show you their license or certification prior to hiring them.
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    Verify that the residential contractor has insurance. Hiring a residential contractor with insurance or worker's compensation may protect you from lawsuits or from paying expenses in the event the contractor is injured while working on your property.
    • Ask the contractor to provide you with proof of insurance. In most cases, residential contractors are required to have an insurance policy before they can legally perform contracting work.
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    Speak with references or past clients of the residential contractor. This will allow you to determine if other consumers have had positive experiences with the contractor.
    • Obtain a list of references or past clients from the residential contractor. The references can be clients with either positive, or negative experiences.
    • Contact each reference and ask them for details about their experience with the contractor. If any references had issues with the contractor, obtain details about the problems and their outcomes. This will allow you to determine if the contractor is experienced with handling and resolving problems that may arise while on the job.
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    Compare the fees and services of multiple contractors. These factors may allow you to determine the value offered by each residential contractor.
    • Ask each residential contractor about the types of materials they will use, the amount of time it will take them to complete the project, and a complete list and description of each fee. Some contractors may charge you lower prices if they are using materials that are lower in quality.
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    Review the contract provided to you by the residential contractor. A reputable contractor will provide you with a detailed contract that outlines the terms, policies, guidelines, and timeline of the project.
    • Ask a friend, family member, or acquaintance familiar with contracts for help with understanding and reviewing the contract terms. This may prevent you from signing a contract with terms that are unethical, unprofessional, or less than favorable.


  • If your state or region requires contractors to have a license, check directly with your state's licensing board to see if the contractor has ever had formal complaints filed against them. You may be able to review the nature of the complaint and whether a contractor's license has ever been revoked or suspended.

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Categories: Home Improvements and Repairs