Chapter 1, Home Improvements: Who can you trust?

When you need a specialty contractor and have no knowledge of best practices, or personal recommendations, how do you decide who to use – especially when the local contractors you find are proposing very different “best” processes?

After reviewing two proposals I obtained on my own, I decided to join Angie’s List.  Angie’s ads suggest her members’ reviews can protect consumers from costly mistakes. I was surprised to see that non-members also can post reviews, although their reviews are separately listed.

So what did I find on Angie’s List?

  • The  contractor I found who looks the best to me has only one posted review; it’s good, but it’s from 2009.
  • A contractor I also liked is top rated, but his two most recent reviews are lower, and it appears two different staffers were involved in the lower ranked jobs. (This is not a sole proprietor.)
  • The list includes two other top-rated contractors (one individual, one a larger company) with multiple member reviews. I have requested bids and process details from these two, to compare to the two in hand.

My job is a one-expert, one day job. Given roughly similar prices, workmanship expertise is the primary decision factor. There appear to be two ‘industry standard’ processes, with one potentially somewhat better than the other. (Depends on who you ask!)

My original top contractor (with a single posted review) does work for a local apartment management company. They’re a volume client with repeat business, and gave him a great recommendation. Would I get the same quality service?

Alternately, should I reward a contractor who may encourage customer reviews?

To be continued!

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