Getting Your House in Order: How to Build Your Own Home Repair Rolodex®
With cooler weather just around the corner, now’s a great time to get your personal Rolodex® of home service experts in order—before you actually need them. After all, the best time to call an electronics installer is before you buy the deluxe home entertainment system, and the worst time to find a friendly, cost-effective plumber is after your pipes have frozen. To help create your list of trusted home experts, here are some tips for finding the right people for each job.
Create Your Dream Team
Depending on the age of your home, you may want your personal home repair Rolodex® to include a plumber, electrician, carpenter, handyman, and interior painter, to name a few. In addition, check to see if your local energy provider offers bundled furnace, air conditioning, and appliance service plans. Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy both offer an array of preventative maintenance, repair, and replacement plans that often pay for themselves in a single visit.
Do Your Homework
If you’re a fact-finder by nature, visit Google, Yelp, Angie’s List, and HomeAdvisor to find plumbers, electricians, and other local resources with user reviews. Groupon, Living Social, and other flash deal sites are another source for home service professionals, but remember that the promotional values usually have an expiration date. You can also search for a professional the old-fashioned way: through word of mouth. Ask your neighbors, the manager of your favorite coffee shop, the owner of your hair salon, or a local realtor for recommendations. If you already have one repair expert you know and trust, ask him or her for referrals to other experts.
Meet the Experts
Once you’ve identified some likely candidates, take the time to schedule an initial meeting at your house. Even if the individual has received rave online reviews, meeting him or her in person allows you to determine whether they’ll be a good fit for your home. Look for people who arrive on time, take off their shoes or boots, shake hands with your children, and greet your pets, as they’ll likely take good care of your home. Find out if they’re licensed and insured, if they hold a current workers’ compensation policy, and whether they’re willing to provide references. Ask them to explain their fees, whether they work on an hourly or a project basis, and if they include a charge for trips, supplies, and other expenses.
Request an Estimate
Once you’ve added an expert to your personal repair Rolodex®, it may be several months or longer before you actually need their services. Before you hire anybody for a specific task, ask for an estimate. If it seems high, get one or two more bids and compare. If you’re not sure what a project should cost, visit the HomeAdvisor website to find average costs for home improvement projects in your area. While it can be tempting to choose the lowest bid, remember that you get what you pay for. In general, a seasoned professional is going to work faster and deliver better quality results than a less-experienced individual.
Reward Great Work
If you’re happy with the work, make a point of referring professionals to your family and friends. Once they know you’re willing to help them build their businesses, they’re more likely to help you out when your pipes freeze on New Year’s Day!