By Gene and Katie Hamilton
You won't regret spending time finding the right contractor for a repair or remodeling job and there are several ways to search for one. It can require some preliminary footwork but the payoff is hiring a pro who does the job right, on time and on budget.
1. A good place to start is by asking friends, neighbors and relatives because "word of mouth" from a satisfied customer is a first hand endorsement of the contractor's skills and professionalism.
2. Don't know anyone? Look around your neighborhood for a striking addition or impressive workmanship on nearby houses. Jot down contact information from the contractor's truck and call them. Ask your neighbor if they are satisfied with the work and they'll most likely invite you inside to see for yourself.
3. Contact NARI, the National Assn. of the Remodeling Industry, a trade group of professional remodelers at their Web site www.nari.org. Click on "Find a Professional Remodeler" at the top of the page and enter your zip code to find a local pro.
4. Use the power of a search engine on the Internet by typing "contractor referral service" and you'll find a host of Web sites designed as a matchmaker for homeowners looking for home service pros. Contractors use these lead generator networks to connect them with qualified consumers and pay a fee for leads; the service is free to customers.
5. Find a tradesman at a home center where an "Installed Price" is offered on many of their products. You sign a contract with the retailer who is responsible for managing the job and controls the delivery and installation of products.
6. Try the Yellow Pages and local newspapers to find local listing of specialized contractors and services.
7. Look on bulletin boards in local hardware stores, lumber yards and home centers where contractors often post their business card.
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