A home is more than a roof over our heads. It’s where we make memories with our loved ones. Our place of refuge from the day-to-day. And our pride as we invest in its comfort, utility, and beauty.

Homeownership is also a cornerstone of generational wealth and economic equity. At HomeFree-USA, we’ve advanced homeownership for people of color and other underserved communities through financial education and programs since 1994. 

Over our decades of experience, we’ve learned a thing or two about how to get the best and most out of your home. Contractors are your valuable partners in its repair, maintenance, and renovation. 

Today, we share what to look for—and what to avoid—to get the best results with your contractor:

    • Got a quote that’s too good to be true? It probably is.

Some contractors will under-bid to land the job or because they don’t have the skill to know better. Compare at least three quotes to get an accurate expected cost baseline. 

    • Make sure they get any required permits.

Some contractors try to claim that permits are unnecessary or your responsibility. Don’t be fooled! Most jurisdictions require permits for large construction projects, and the party doing the work must obtain them. 

    • Don’t pay a big deposit up front.

A scammer might ask for 30-50% of the job cost up front and then disappear. “Never prepay more than $1,000 or 10% of the job total, whichever is less,” Angie’s List recommends. 

    • Don’t just take their word for it.

Verbal agreements don’t cut it. Require a written contract that includes who’s responsible for what, timeline, terms, and a detailed description of work, materials, warranties, and subcontractors.

    • “Unforeseen problems” spike your job cost?

Get a second and even a third opinion before moving forward. Consult a building inspector, especially if your contractor is claiming structural issues.

    • Don’t hire an unsolicited contractor. 

If they “happen to be in the neighborhood” or can “give you a great deal on materials” from a nearby job… Be wary. Don’t hire anyone without doing your due diligence (see #7).

    • Do your homework before hiring a contractor. 

Check their reviews, industry associations, and references—and for their suppliers. Confirm licensing, insurance, and bonding, if applicable. 

The best contractors are worth their weight in gold. That’s why it’s important to know what to look for in hiring those contractors, and especially, what to avoid so you don’t get ripped off.  

HomeFree-USA has helped people buy and keep homes for almost 30 years. Whether you are wrestling with any of the issues in this article or looking for sound, impartial advice you can trust on homebuying, homeownership, qualifying for a mortgage, or refinancing, we are here for you.Get quick answers to your questions at no cost or obligation to you. Schedule a free homeownership consultation or call 855-493-4002. Visit HomeFreeUSA.org to learn more.