Homeowners love residential contractors for the much-needed improvements they complete that boost a home’s value, functionality, and appearance. Yet, generally, homeowners are also leery of residential contractors, collectively having been burned far too often. In a 2015 survey by the Consumer Federation of America and the North American Consumer Protection Investigators, home improvement/construction contractors were the second-most common consumer complaint, trailing just automotive businesses. Reasons the survey cited for these complaints were “shoddy work, failure to start or complete the job.”
This introduction may seem weird for our blog because, well, we’re a home improvement residential contractor. Our point is that not every contractor will cause you grief—there are plenty of outstanding ones ready to repair or upgrade your home beyond your satisfaction. Here are some tips for finding them, along with our recommendations of trustworthy residential contractors in Maryland:
Signs of Trustworthiness
After a homeowner works with a residential contractor that performs excellent work, on time, and at reasonable cost (without any surprising expenses), trust forms, and the homeowner has no qualms turning to that professional for additional work or recommending the contractor to friends. Finding such a contractor in the first place is the challenge. Several signs that indicate a residential contractor might be trustworthy are:
- Licensing: Is the residential contractor you are considering licensed by the Maryland Home Improvement Commission, as well as by local agencies that permit it to operate as a business?
- Certifications: Just about every area of home improvement comes with some sort of certifications that recognize competency and excellence.
- Warranties: Ask about how a residential contractor guarantees its work. The answer might include a contractor’s own warranties, as well as warranties from the manufacturer of the products being installed.
- Experience: Naturally, a contractor with years of experience is more desirable than one that just repaired its first roof or painted its first house.
- Online reviews: In our digital age, researching what other customers think about a residential contractor is easy. Help the process for others by leaving your own reviews after a contractor completes a job on your home.
- Word of mouth: Seek recommendations from friends, family, and especially neighbors (because you can easily see first-hand the completed work) on contractors they trust.
- A local presence: Contractors that are based locally and secure business locally (and not through a 1-800 number or a giant home improvement retailer) bring an extra level of attention to the job—they know your community, and they work to become a trustworthy option within it.
- Detailed contracts: More elaborate home improvement contracts will require something beyond a simple work order. Trustworthy contractors provide detailed contracts that spell out the scope of work, the timeline for the job, and a defined cost.
Over the years, we have encountered a wide range of residential contractors that we highly recommend to homeowners. For roofing, windows, doors, siding, and rooftop solar panels, we offer this shameless suggestion of a trustworthy contractor: BRAX Roofing! Our experts bring decades of experience to the job, and we sport an impressive list of industry and manufacturer certifications, including the GAF Master Elite Certification given to just 3 percent of certified GAF installers. And our knowledge of working on Maryland homes is unparalleled.
This self-promotion aside (hey, it’s our blog—we’re allowed!), here are 10 contractors in other home improvement areas we recommend:
- Audio/video and home automation solutions: Smart Automation Solutions, www.smartautomationsolutions.com
- Carpet installation and cleaning: Normandy Carpet, www.normandycarpet.com
- Custom glass fabrication: Perfect Glassworks, www.perfectglassworks.com
- Home security: Guardian Protection Services, www.guardianprotection.com
- HVAC: The John G. Webster Company, www.johngwebsterhvacdc.com
- Landscaping: Campbell Landscaping, www.campbellslandscaping.com
- Locksmith: Mike’s Locksmith, www.mikes-locksmith.com
- Painting: Five Star Painting, www.fivestarpainting.com/montgomery-county
- Slip-resistant stair technology: No-Slip Strip, www.noslipstrip.com
- Window cleaning, gutter cleaning, power washing: Window Genie, www.bethesda.windowgenie.com
A printable version of this list, which includes phone numbers and points of contact, can be downloaded here.
What things do you value in a trustworthy residential contractor?