Even before the pandemic, the United States had a shortage of qualified contractors. Canada also faced a similar situation. However, the COVID-19 pandemic and supply chain issues have made hiring for home remodel and repair projects even harder – and it’s likely to get worse.
What’s a homeowner to do? BBB has the following tips if you are having trouble finding a contractor for your home improvement project.
Hiring a contractor during a shortage
- Understand the challenges. It’s normal 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 just yet. 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, make sure they are a licensed contractor and ask for proof of insurance. Check BBB.org to see their business rating and read customer reviews and complaints. You can also check your county court’s website to see if anyone has filed a lawsuit against them. Always call references too. Remember that all these steps are necessary because scammers always look for ways to take advantage of consumers during shortages.
- Don’t make a hasty decision. If you’ve been searching for weeks or months already, hiring just anyone who says they’ll accept the job can be tempting. 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 damages repaired.
For more information
Find trusted, vetted contracting pros near you and get a quote. Review BBB’s tip on hiring a reliable contractor for more advice on this topic, and visit our HomeHQ page for even more information for homeowners.