If you own a house, you know that the need for occasional home repairs comes with the territory. Things wear out, or break, or simply need updating. But you might also be a little terrified about finding someone to do the work properly. After all, who hasn’t heard horror stories about home repair jobs gone very, very wrong (shady contractor, shoddy work, shameless overcharging)? How do you know that the professionals you choose will actually be professional?

Faced with this potential nightmare, you might be tempted to ignore the repair issue and hope fervently that it will go away (it probably won’t), or risk your safety – and your sanity – trying to do the job yourself. Instead, take a deep breath and spend a little time researching local home repair services and contractors. Once you’ve come up with a list of providers to interview, be sure to ask them the following questions.

    1. Are You Licensed and Insured?Home repair contractors should be licensed in every area in which they operate – and should have no qualms about providing you with a copy of these licenses. Same goes for insurance. On-the-job accidents, while uncommon, do happen from time to time, and you need to make sure that you’re covered against potential liability.


    1. How Long Have You Been Doing Home Repair Work?Yes, every contractor needs to start somewhere in order to get experience, but do you want that “somewhere” to be your home? Truthfully, probably not. Look for a contractor who has years of experience not only in home repair, but in the type of home repair you’re requesting.


    1. What Percentage of Your Business Is Repeat or Referral?Repeat business is a contractor’s most valuable selling point – because repeat clients are satisfied clients. Same with referrals; you wouldn’t recommend a home repair service to your friends and family if you didn’t think it was competent and trustworthy. The higher a contractor’s rates of repeat and referral work, the better. Don’t be afraid to ask for references, either.


    1. Is a Warranty Provided for Your Work?What happens if your contractor’s fix doesn’t “take”? Or the material used in the fix turns out to be faulty? You have a warranty on appliances when you buy them; you should have a warranty on repair work within your home, too. And a verbal guarantee isn’t enough – you need to get something in writing, explicitly detailing what is and isn’t covered, and for how long.


  1. Is Your Work Performed In-House or with Contractors?Are you dealing with a full service organization that employs its own team of professionals, or a company farming the work out to someone else? Either way, it’s imperative that you, the client, are in constant communication with the person in charge of the project, as well as the team actually doing the work – so that you’re fully aware of progress and potential issues.