So you’re excited to start on a project to increase your property value, give your house a make-over, and turn that fixer-upper you purchased into your dream home. Whether you’re doing some simple remodeling or undergoing an elaborate home renovation, choosing the right professional can be overwhelming.

For starters, you want to make sure you hire a contractor that is reliable, trustworthy, and won’t rip you off and leave you with a job half-finished. To help, we’ve compiled some tips to guide you in the selection process when looking to hire reputable contractors in the home renovation business who will deliver the results you expect and pay for!

  1. Personal Referrals

People are most likely to choose contractors based on personal referrals: it’s just the way we work. We trust those we know on a personal basis and whose homes we’ve been into because there’s concrete evidence that the job was well-done. A good quality home remodeling contractor should have a network of people that refer them to friends and family.  After all, if a friend, family member or co-worker had a good experience with a contractor, you have a safer bet that you will too!

  1. Professional Referrals

What about when you have a very unique problem or project and word-of-mouth doesn’t work for a recommendation? Talk to professionals about who they’d recommend to do the job, whether other contractors in the home renovation business, realtors, or even lawyers. It’s their job to provide honest recommendations. However, be careful that one contractor may not just be recommending another to “help a buddy out.” Still do your research on the company to see what their clients have to say!

  1. Social Media Presence

Not every contractor has the time or money to spend on online advertising, especially Mom-and-Pop Businesses whose generation may not be familiar with sites like Facebook or Instagram. However, having a social media presence has become a must-have for most contractors, even if they’re not entirely active. Look for companies with social media pages and well-designed websites, as a contractor who is serious about growing his or her business will utilize these free start-up services as a spring board for their clients’ referrals.

  1. Qualifications

Never underestimate the importance of qualifications. Although experience is invaluable, contractors need to refresh and maintain their credentials to match the latest in home innovation technology. Think about it: would you ask someone who has twenty years of marketing experience but doesn’t understand how to use Facebook or YouTube? Like technology, the system updates on home renovations can be very intricate, and proper education provides contractors with the instructions they need to execute the job correctly.

  1. Scan for complaints

Use BBB (Better Business Bureau) and even try doing a legal search on Government websites such as the Canadian Legal Information Institute Canadian Legal Information Institute. Do a search of the contractor and see if they come up. In this case, no mention is often a good sign as they don’t have a history of conflict with their clients.

  1. Research your reviews

The Internet is everyone’s main source of information these days. Online reviews have become one of the most valuable resources for restaurants, hotels, and personal services, so it’s no surprise that they are widely used for home-renovation professionals. If a client is pleased with a job well done, they’re usually happy to write a review and post photos of their home renovation projects on websites like Angies List. You can also use Google reviews to find quality contractors. Use these reviews as a lead for your research, but beware: there may be some false or biased reviews. Be sure to follow up with an analysis on the contractor’s credentials to make sure that your services are legit!

  1. Look for their name in shining lights!

Okay so your local neighborhood contractor may not have a 20-second commercial spot in Times Square, or even a Billboard down the rural route highway, but a good company in the Home Renovation Business will be proud to display their name and contact information on a sign on their client’s lawns. Firstly, it says they are proud of their job, and secondly it shows that their clients were happy enough with their service to promote them to them to the community.

  1. Sponsorships

Again, not every small business will have the financial funds to sponsor a playing field or a new wing at your local hospital, but businesses who do well give back to their local communities by donating to a new public building, a youth sports team, fundraisers, or events. It’s a way to show that their trustworthy character while simultaneously promoting their respective businesses. Strong community figures are generally more reputable than a contractor no one has ever heard of.

TIP: Be sure to check that your contractors are licensed and that they work in your area. Good, reliable companies can provide documentation to prove that they carry liability insurance and WSIB. In the event that your contractor fails to do his/her job or tries to rip you off, you can take your complaints to the licensing agency to help mediate the situation.

Good luck and have fun with your home renovation project!