Imagine this: you’re about to tackle a particularly complex home renovation — but you’re no DIY guru.
You are not alone because, in the past year itself, 55% of homeowners reported renovating a part of their home.
But, besides operating a drill, the understanding of HVAC systems, plumbing complexities, or electric circuits can feel like a huge hill to climb; a task beyond stress levels that you just don’t feel like handling. That’s when the pros enter: professional home improvement experts who specialize in dealing with these cumbersome tasks.
They’re equipped with keen mechanical reasoning skills — turning difficult DIY jobs into a delightful breeze. However, what separates an average professional from a true pro is not just their mere knowledge but also their adeptness at problem-solving and creativity.
To ensure that you’re hiring the best, there are several key qualities to watch for. In this article, we take a look at 9 tips to help you hire home improvement pros with standout mechanical reasoning.
9 Tips to Hire Home Improvement Pros
1. Opt for tests for employers
Mechanical reasoning tests for employers evaluate the cognitive abilities and specific skills of a potential contractor.
They are tests that judge how well your potential contractor understands mechanical principles and can problem-solve visual representations of mechanical problems.
From force and movement to velocity, to pulleys, gears, and wheels — these tests cover all essential concepts.
These tests are perfect for hiring folks like facility maintenance, HVAC technicians, equipment installation technicians, electricians, welders, plumbers, carpenters, machine operators, machinists, automotive mechanics, engineers (mechanical, electrical, civil, aerospace), and technical salespersons.
For example: Think of a real–life problem like fixing an HVAC unit or setting up a home theater system. Understanding how different gadgets and appliances work in unison requires logical thinking and questioning routines. These tests weed out those who might be lacking in these areas.
2. Check if they have insurance and a valid license
This qualifier is crucial in the hiring process.
Always ask any contractor you consider working with, whether they have insurance and a valid, up-to-date license. This not only protects you from any legal repercussions but also guarantees a certain level of professionalism and competence.Each state or region has its own requirements for a license; therefore, it’s important to be familiar with these regulations. The contractor’s liability insurance can cover any damage that might occur in your home during the job, keeping you financially secure. Their worker’s compensation insurance also ensures you won’t be liable if a worker is injured on your property.
3. Do they have relevant experience?
Experience counts, particularly in the specialized field of home improvement.
Although skill sets differ from job to job, an experienced pro has likely encountered a variety of scenarios, dealt with diverse workload demands, and finessed issues, errors, and hitches.
Ask for a portfolio highlighting their work and maybe even references to hear feedback from previous clients. This can help you ascertain their expertise and their aptitude in dealing with unruly technical difficulties concerning home improvement tasks.
4. Are they punctual and reliable?
Punctuality and reliability are markers of professionalism — traits you want in any contractor moving in and out of your space.
Make sure you can rely on them to show up on the agreed date and time for inspections, consults, and to do the work.Sick days and personal emergencies may occur, but a professional will always keep the client informed.
They should respect your time and maintain structured timelines to avoid workflow disruptions. Remember, punctuality also stands for delivering projects on time. Delays can lead to additional costs and elongated disruptions.
5. Ask for detailed estimates and quotations
Don’t let the hard numbers scare you off by asking for a detailed quote upfront.
Any professional worth their salt should provide a written estimate containing itemized costs for materials, labor, and other service-related expenses, respecting your financial concerns. Comparing estimates from different professionals will not only enable an understanding of the market rates but also prevent you from falling prey to deceptive pricing strategies by dishonest contractors.
Determine if they require an upfront deposit, what their payment schedules look like, the mode of payments accepted, potential extra costs, and refund policies in case of preempted projects or unsatisfactory work. It is advisable to set up payment milestones linked to project progress rather than one large sum at project commencement. This helps keep the project on track and shares the financial risk equally between both parties.
Pro tip: Be leery of quotations substantially lower than the rest; these could indicate subpar work or lack of pertinent license and insurance coverages.
6. Understand their problem-solving approach
Home improvement professionals should have exemplary problem-solving skills.
Not every project will go as planned — new challenges and complications often expose themselves as work progresses. Professionals with standout mechanical reasoning skills don’t get flustered when they encounter hitches. They pause, process, and commence formulating a logical resolution.
During your consultation talks, ask potential hires about problematic situations they’ve encountered during past jobs, how they tackled them, and the reasoning behind their approach. An articulate explanation will reveal their problem-solving capabilities, thought processes, and level of experience dealing with unexpected issues.
7. Look for consistency and a track record
When researching a home improvement professional, consider their record of consistent, high-quality work.
This also means that they maintain great relationships with customers post their projects, which tells you a whole lot about work ethics, after-sales service, project warranties, and customer rapport.
Start by perusing online reviews on platforms like Yelp, Linkedin, Google, Houzz, and others specific to your region. Genuine client testimonials are highly informative, and word-of-mouth recommendations are invaluable. If possible, visit a project site they recently worked on or a client’s house; evaluating a live sample will give you the best perspective on their workmanship and aesthetics.
Pro tip: Don’t ignore little details; they often give away valuable insights. Breakdowns in communication, hidden extra charges, corner-cutting, uncleanliness, disrespectful behaviors, and tardiness are common red flags and are critical considerations when shortlisting your potential professionals.
8. Evaluate the quality of their communication
Good communication is key in managing expectations and ensuring smooth project execution.
A good contractor should listen to your needs, understand your expectations, and explain the project plan articulately. They should be reachable and responsive, show patience in answering your queries, and keep you updated on the progress and any delays of the project.
In case of problem occurrence or unexpected change, they should be adept in proposing solutions, explaining their impact on the timeline and costs, and obtaining consent before implementing them.
9. Assess the quality of their craftsmanship
The finished work should show attention to detail, and functionality, and comply with manufacturing and industry standards.
Exceptional craftsmanship includes high-quality finishes, durable materials, and great execution. Research how they treat their tools & machinery — are they cleaned and maintained regularly or just thrown in a box, collecting rust?
You’d also want to hire a team that considers your home their workspace; project site cleanliness and safety measures adopted during the project give you an inkling about their dedication to their craft. Lastly, ask if they collaborate with other specialists in the event of multi-faceted projects to ensure your task doesn’t breach local codes and regulations.
Related reading: Four Important Electrical Safety Tips Every Homeowner Must Consider
Checklist for Hiring a Home Improvement Professional
Let’s take a TLDR approach to the key pointers discussed so far.
- Check credentials: Licenses, certifications, insurance
- Ask for references: Past projects, or customer reviews
- Evaluate punctuality: Project delivery times, adherence to timelines
- Request a detailed quote: Materials, labor, and extras costs
- Understand payment dynamics: Payment schedules, accepted payment methods
- Check problem-solving skills: Handling and resolution of previous issues
- Consider their track record: Consistency and quality of previous work
- Quality of communication: Understanding of project, responsiveness
- Level of craftsmanship: Finishes, material durability, compliance with standards
- Workspace Management: Site cleanliness, safety measures
- Interdisciplinary collaboration: Cooperation with other professionals as per project requirement
- Post-project communication: Correspondence for after-sales service, project maintenance, and warranty issues
- Problem Occurrence Strategy: How they propose solutions in case of any unexpected issues
- Attention to detail: Observation of small elements in their work, adherence to specifications, respecting aesthetic details about your living space.
- Cleanliness and safety: Respect for your home as a workspace, maintaining cleanliness during the job and post-project, and adhering to safety protocols
- Consider the price: Beware of quotes that are substantially lower than the rest — these may indicate problems like subpar work or a lack of necessary credentials and insurance
- Equipment care: The way they treat their tools tells a lot about their work ethic and attention to key details
Remember that this handy checklist aims to guide you in the right direction when scouting for a home improvement professional.
Get Your Ideal Home Improvement Partner
Our home, our sanctuary, deserves the best care and improvement. One wrong hire can negatively impact not only the appeal but also the comfort and safety of this space. So take adequate time in this selection process, because the right home improvement professional can transform your once plain and ordinary house into an extraordinary living experience. Happy home improvement!
Related reading: 4 Tips For A Successful Weekend DIY Project