With so many contractors and service professionals available, it can be a daunting task to find the right person for your home repair jobs — and all too often, you don’t know if they’re any good until it’s too late and the damage has been done. Here are some tips to help you find someone reliable to do your home repairs.

1. Decide whether you need a handyman or a contractor

Professionally speaking, the words “handyman” and “contractor” actually mean two different things. Basically, a handyman can do minor exterior/interior repairs, limited plumbing or electrical jobs, some painting and light maintenance work. You’ll need a contractor, however, for large-scale electrical/plumbing jobs, major repair and construction projects and other types of specialized jobs. Before contacting anyone, decide whether you need a full-service contractor for large-scale projects, or a handyman who specializes in specific, smaller jobs.

2. Know exactly what you want done

Before you start looking for a handyman or contractor, you first need to decide exactly what you want done. Be specific and prioritize what’s important — otherwise, you may find that, intentionally or otherwise, you’ve been talked into doing something that’s costly, unnecessary and contradictory to your original plans.

3. Use licensed professionals

Be sure to hire licensed professionals for your home improvement projects. Also, make sure to hire someone who not only carries the necessary insurance for the job, but also takes care of getting any permits that may be required.

4. Shop around and read reviews

Sites such as Angie’s List and HomeAdvisor, as well as online testimonials, can offer a wealth of information and tip you off about any potential red flags with a contractor’s services. Also, check with friends and colleagues who have had similar work done — they may be able to refer you to someone reliable.

5. Get estimate/service specifics in writing

Before you sign a contract, get everything in writing. This includes a final price quote (not a “ball-park” estimate), and a specific list of all services to be performed.

6. Check credentials and guarantees

Before hiring service providers, check their credentials, and don’t hesitate to ask about past projects that they’ve completed. Experienced service professionals will be happy to provide this information. Also, make sure they offer a guarantee or warranty for their work.

Thanks to the Internet, it’s easy to find reputable experts who can tackle just about any home repair project. By reading reviews, checking credentials and asking the right questions, you can be more proactive in finding a reliable professional for all your home repair needs.

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