Finding Qualified Tradespeople

You wake up to find a puddle of water in your living room.  Your first thought is, gosh, I thought I let the dog out before bed.  Then it dawns on you, no dog could create a puddle that big… so you slowly raise your eyes upwards and cringe at the all too familiar water mark on the ceiling.  Yep, there’s a water leak somewhere in your house.

This actually happened to me two weeks before my son was to be born.  Talk about stressful!  We had no idea how to find a reputable person to come and do the repairs, so we did what most of us probably end up doing: googling “water damage repair near me”.  While that’s not a bad way to get started (unless you have a professional, experienced, reasonably priced tradesman that will stop what they’re doing and show up at the ready) it is helpful if you have a process for vetting and eliminating potential workers before you’re taken advantage of.  Here are some tips to keep in mind when you’re looking to hire your next professional.

First, it helps to know who is needed for the job at hand.  For example, is it something that could be done by a handyman?  Or, as in the situation above, do you really need a tradesman (i.e. plumber) to complete the work?  Or is it something even bigger, like a remodel, which would require a general contractor?  Once you have determined what type of person you are looking to hire, the best way to find someone is through referrals from people you trust.  Start with friends and family and if they don’t have any recommendations, turn to people in the field like local hardware and home improvement stores.  If you have a relationship with a real estate agent, they’re a great resource as well.

If you strikeout on referrals, the internet can be a helpful tool.  There are websites like and that allow customers to rate service professionals in your area so that you can avoid the ones that will fleece you and contact only the ones that have positive reviews.

Once you’ve come up with your short list, the next step is to get written estimates that clearly detail the materials and costs associated with the project.  Get several estimates so that you can compare them to make sure you’re getting quoted reasonable rates.  After you narrow your list down to the top three or so, do a quick internet search to see if they’ve had an unusual amount of complaints lodged against them or their company.  If it’s a costly or larger project, you may even consider asking for references from past jobs.  If you do, make sure you actually check them!

Now that you’ve settled on a service professional, you want to make sure that the person you hire is actually licensed for the work they will perform.  If you unwittingly hire someone to do work that requires a license, there isn’t much recourse for you if the job doesn’t go well.  Of course, not all jobs will require a licensed professional, in which case this doesn’t apply.

Lastly, ask to see their proof of insurance which covers any damage they may cause while doing the work.

Hopefully this will help you feel a little better equipped to handle those curve balls life throws sometimes.