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Diamonds in The Rough: 5 Steps to Finding Reliable Contractors

Sunday, November 05, 2023

Primary Blog/Diamonds in The Rough: 5 Steps to Finding Reliable Contractors

Key takeaways:

  • ​Discover the 5 essential steps to finding reliable and trustworthy contractors​.
  • ​Learn how to define your project scope and requirements and ​communicate your expectations.
  • ​Find out how to screen and interview contractors​ to see if they're of the right caliber.

Read on for the whole story and find your diamond in the contractor rough!

Contractors are a common source of frustration for many real estate investors. And with the contractor playing such an important role in the real estate investor’s power team; the skills, abilities, and character of that contractor will determine whether the investment ends up a success or failure.

Because we both know that hiring the wrong contractor can lead to costly delays, shoddy workmanship, and, ultimately, a loss of profits. While working with trustworthy and skilled professionals can save us time, and money, and make the whole process feel like it was a breeze.

So, to help you avoid these challenges, I've put together my 5 essential steps to help you find trustworthy and reliable contractors.

Let's get started!

Step 1: Define Your Project Scope and Requirements

Before you begin your search for contractors, it's essential to clearly define your project's scope and requirements.

  • ​What repairs and improvements are you making to the property?
  • ​Do you have a big enough budget to do all of the repairs and improvements?
  • Is there a time constraint because of <insert reason>, like the terms of a private loan?

By doing this exercise before you start reaching out to contractors, you’ll be better able to communicate your exact needs confidently, making it easier to assess their ability to meet your needs.

This step will serve as a foundation for finding the right contractors.

Step 2: Start with the Low-Hanging Fruit

One of the easiest ways to find contractors is by asking for referrals from people you’re connected with. That means fellow real estate investors, property managers, real estate agents, etc. These individuals often have a network of contractors they rely on and can vouch for their workmanship, reliability, and professionalism.

When asking for recommendations, be sure to ask if they’ve had that contractor recently complete a renovation similar to what you have planned. Recent and similar are the keywords there. Your goal is to find contractors who align with your needs and expectations because what may be “good” to someone else doesn’t necessarily mean it will to you.

Referrals provide an easy starting point for your search, helping you narrow down your options.

There are at least 7 other ways to find good contractors, but I’ll save that for another time.

Step 3: Pre-Qualification

In order to find a reliable contractor, carefully pre-qualify them. This involves online detective work to gather some essential information.

Social Media: Take note of their activity on social media platforms. A contractor that has an active and engaging social media presence, showcasing their work and expertise is a sign that they are motivated.

Website: Look into the contractor's history. Check their website for how long they have been in business and the experience of their team. Spend some time reviewing their project gallery. This will give you a visual representation of their workmanship and the types of projects they completed in the past. What do they specialize in? Look for examples that align with your needs.

Online Reviews: Check online platforms such as Google, Houzz, and TrustedPros for client reviews. Pay attention to feedback regarding the contractor's reliability, timeliness, work quality, and professionalism. Positive reviews indicate client satisfaction and can provide a sense of confidence in the contractor's abilities. Negative reviews, specifically how the contractor responds to them, are equally important.

By using these online sources, you can learn a lot about contractors without ever having to pick up the phone. This is the quickest and easiest way to continue narrowing down your options to the best candidates.

Step 4: Phone Interview

With a list of your top choices, it’s time to finally reach out.

Here are some guidelines to follow in order to make the most of these conversations:

Prepare targeted questions: Prior to the call, have a list of specific questions ready. That could include questions about the contractor's experience, track record with investors, licensing and certifications, insurance, and more. Be assertive and focused, nothing should be off the table.

Listen for confidence and clarity: Pay close attention to how confidently and effectively they answer your questions.

This isn’t meant to be an interrogation. The conversation should be light and casual while making sure they check all of the boxes.

Step 5: Check References and Visit Active Projects

Always request references from every contractor you are seriously considering. Reach out to their past clients and discuss their experiences with the contractor. Important topics to cover include workmanship, communication, punctuality, and adherence to timelines and budgets.

But what have you done for me lately? How a contractor performed in the past, doesn’t tell you how they’re doing right now. I don’t have to tell you that a lot can happen in one month, six months, a year or more. So, ask contractors you’re seriously considering if you could visit an active job site. On those job sites, you want to assess the quality of work, how their crew is communicating, what’s the state of the job site, whether they’re organized, etc.

Understanding how a contractor performed for past clients and is performing on current jobs will give you the full picture of the value and service you can expect to receive.

In your quest to find reliable contractors, following these 5 steps will significantly increase your chances of success.

By defining your project scope, asking for referrals, pre-qualifying them, interviewing them, and checking references as well as active job sites, you will increase your odds of finding the hidden gems of the industry.

Putting that initial time and effort into the contractor selection process will pay off in the long run because once you’ve found the right contractor to add to your power team, you can be confident that your present and future projects will run that much smoother. Leaving you more time to find and fund your next deal!

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Michael Emanuele

(a.k.a. ""The Real Estate Rehabber")

​Bestselling Author, Real Estate Investor, and Entrepreneur

I want to empower new and seasoned real estate investors alike to navigate the challenges of property rehabbing with confidence.

These resources include essential tips and insights, that every real estate investor can use to excel in the competitive world of property rehabbing.

​Whether your goal is to flip houses, create long-term rentals, or execute the buy-rehab-rent-refinance-repeat strategy, "The Real Estate Rehabber" will educate viewers on how they can plan and manage property rehabs.