Monday, March 30, 2015

What To Look For When Hiring a Contractor

We recently received a review on Angie's List that did a wonderful job of explaining exactly what made this particular client so happy with the work we did.  He wrote,

"Working with Rick and Closets for Life was exactly as the other reviewers had stated.  He was extremely professional, punctual, did great work, and was so easy to work with.  He always followed up, arrived on time, and set the right expectations.  I find that many times people who own their own businesses in this field can either be really good at their craft or really good at communication, but not both.  Rick is the exception.  He is flexible, great at communicating, checks in with you, and does great work.  Not only did he think of absolutely everything, he also made some additional suggestions on the mudroom that really tied everything together.  It is no surprise that he is rated so highly.  Both Rick and the other guy he brought with him seem like genuinely great people who are extremely talented in what they do.   I also have a concern with hiring anyone I don't know and letting them in my house, but with Rick there are absolutely no concerns.  If I need any additional work done, I will definitely be using him again.  He is without a doubt the best contractor I have ever used."
This got us to thinking, what makes a great contractor?  Many times when hiring a contractor for a project, people will decide on price alone, picking whomever had the lowest bid.  While a low price may initially seem like a great deciding factor, ultimately, what will determine your happiness with a project is your experience working with the contractor and the end product.  If you paid less but found your contractor hard to work with and the end result less than you hoped for, a lower price tag won't make up for it.

What should you look for when deciding on a contractor then?  Here are 4 tips on selecting and working with a qualified contractor compiled from US News, This Old House and

Check credentials and disciplinary history
According to US News, you should look for a contractor who has been in business for a while, someone who is licensed and registered (every state has different rules; check yours on or ask your local building inspector), has insurance (liability; worker’s comp), and has a solid reputation. Make sure that they also have a clean bill of health from the Better Business Bureau and from your state’s consumer protection agency. 

We also recommend checking for reviews on respected online websites such as Angie's List and

Do Phone Interviews
Once you've assembled a list, This Old House recommends that you make a quick call to each of your prospects and ask them the following questions:

• Do they take on projects of your size, type?

• For bigger projects, are they willing to provide financial references, from suppliers or banks?

• Can they give you a list of previous clients?

• How many other projects would they have going at the same time?

• How long have they worked with their subcontractors?

The answers to these questions will reveal the company's availability, reliability, how much attention they'll be able to give your project and how smoothly the work will go.

Communication is key
The single most important factor in choosing a contractor is how well you communicate. All things being equal, it's better to spend more and get someone you're comfortable with.  Think about whether you feel comfortable with their personality, background, methods, and communication skills.  All three sources recommend meeting with the contractors in person to discuss your end goals for the project, your vision and your timeline.  A great contractor should listen to your ideas and make suggestions without being pushy or dismissive.  

Put it in writing
Every project should have a contract, no matter the size of the estimated work. Contracts ensure that if a dispute arises, it can be dealt with in a timely manner.  If a contractor is unwilling to commit to a price on a contract or a specified timeline, do not choose them. This opens the door for mysterious charges that arise mid-project or delays.

We hope you have found this article helpful.  If you are interested in a reliable contractor for your  next custom organization project, please contact Rick Lyrek at Closets For Life for your free in-home consultation.Closets For Life can be reached by phone at 952-484-0416 or by email at  You can also visit our website at

Based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Closets For Life is a custom organization company that works with residential clients as well as designers, builders, remodelers and architects to create innovative solutions for all organizational needs including closets, mud rooms, craft rooms, kitchens, garages, home offices, Murphy beds, wine cellars and more.