Guide to Choosing Home Repair Professionals

Guide to Choosing Home Repair Professionals

Home ownership comes with responsibilities. Regardless of the age of your home, every house will encounter problems that require repair at some point. When you begin your search for a home repair professional, there are some steps you can take to ensure you receive high-quality service at an affordable price.

Home Repair Services

The most common home repair services are for:

  • Plumbing and installing a new water heater
  • Heating and air-conditioning
  • Roofing
  • Appliances
  • Floors, walls, ceilings, paint
  • Electrical
  • Garage doors
  • Windows and doors
  • Fireplace
  • Lighting
  • Fences

Most people are not able to do their own repair work and must count on the experience and expertise of professionals.

What to Look for in a Home Repair Professional

A home repair professional needs to be competent and reliable. Here are some of the important factors to consider when comparing home repair professionals:

  • State contractor’s license
  • Bonded and insured
  • Experience
  • Proper Training/Education
  • Years in business (an established company)
  • Hours of operation
  • Fast response time
  • Location
  • Emergency service availability
  • Licensing and affiliations
  • Warranty offered on their work

Choosing a licensed contractor that is bonded and insured is necessary if you want the protection they provide.  Being bonded and insured ensures that the job you are paying for will be completed, and that you are protected against any damage or theft that occurs by the employees of the company or the person performing the work. Licensed contractors should be bonded and insured, whereas if you hire a neighbor or the teenager down the street to paint your fence, he typically won’t be bonded and insured and it may not be as important to you considering the task.

Research Repair Professionals

When choosing a repair professional, find out more about their reputation. This can be accomplished in several ways:

  • Obtaining referrals from friends or relatives
  • Checking the Better Business Bureau at http://www.bbb.org
  • Checking your state agency responsible for licensing contractors
  • Reading customer reviews online
  • Getting recommended names from home repair referral companies
  • Ask the repair professional for references you can call

The repair professional should be reputable and have references they are willing to provide. Also, request the contractor’s license number and check the information they give you online to make sure that they are a legitimate licensed contractor in good standing. You can search for “verify contractor’s license (your city and state, or zip code)” to find the entity that regulates licensing, such as your state’s Registrar of Contractors. You can verify that the contractor is currently licensed and find out if they have any registered complaints.

The popularity of online listings for local services has created another option for locating specific repair professionals.  For example, you can search online for “Air conditioning repair in (your city and state or zip code)”. You typically will see several repair companies in the search results, along with their online rating for satisfaction and reviews from customers that you can read, both good and bad. You can also go onto the repair company’s website and learn more about their business. This has made the initial selection process a little easier, as there is so much information at your fingertips.

Repair Charges

Home repair professionals usually charge by the hour for their services (labor) plus parts. Most repair companies have a minimum service charge, or service or trip call. This is the amount you will be billed to have them come out to identify the problem and tell you what is needed. Additional charges will then apply if work and parts are required. The hourly rate should be discussed before they come to your home, when you make the appointment. Repair professionals rarely advertise set pricing or give set quotes over the phone since they do not know what repair is actually required until they evaluate the problem.

Get an Estimate

Whenever possible, get a written estimate for the repairs you need done before you hire a repair professional. Most reputable companies will have you sign a “scope of work”, or estimate, before beginning the repair. Be wary of companies that refuse to give written estimates. Letting someone work on your repair without knowing the cost exposes you to great expense. The estimate should contain the following:

  • Description of the exact repair
  • Length of time to complete the repair
  • How many repair professionals will work on the repair
  • Cost of the repair including a breakdown of parts and labor
  • Whether travel time is charged
  • Length of time the estimate will be honored
  • Length of warranty on parts and labor

Sometimes you are in an emergency situation and do not have the luxury of obtaining more than one estimate, and you just have to go with a reputable contractor for a quick repair (such as air conditioning/heating emergencies). However, when possible, obtain two or more estimates for the work so that you can pick the company you feel is most professional that is offering a fair price. It also helps you confirm what work is needed to fix the problem or handle your project. Remember that the cheapest estimate may not always be the best one. At the same time, a high estimate does not necessarily mean that the work will be better.

Home Warranty Contracts

Home warranty contracts are available from various national and local providers. These contracts offer maintenance and repair coverage for many of the most common home systems, appliances and equipment. There are many types of plans offered. Generally, the home warranty will cover basic repairs on items such as the refrigerator, stove, dishwasher, garbage disposal, washing machine, dryer, furnace, air conditioner, and more. The cost for these types of warranties depends on factors such as the make, model and age of the appliances. There are often upgrades available to purchase to add to the basic home warranty for more expensive systems in your home, such as the roof and pool equipment.

Those who are new to home ownership, own several homes or rental properties, or have older homes may find that a home warranty is the best option. Home warranties are billed monthly, quarterly, or annually. Before purchasing a home warranty, be sure to read the entire contract. Make sure that it covers your needs, will actually cover repairs and not just “service calls” to diagnose the problem, and that there are no hidden expenses. For example, some contracts cover only service calls during regular business hours and the customer will pay more for emergency requests.

Most home warranties charge a reasonable service fee to have a repair professional come to your home and make the repair (typically under $100). This offers you peace of mind in knowing that if a covered item needs repair, typically the most it can cost you is the service fee. However, there are instances where other charges may apply, such as disposal fees or custom fitting charges if the A/C unit needs to be replaced, so it is important to read the warranty before buying it. Overall, a home warranty can save you money if you have unexpected repairs, and provide peace of mind.

DISCLAIMER: This guide is provided only for informational purposes and is not intended to be a substitute for legal or other professional advice. This guide does not contain nor is it intended to provide legal or other professional advice for any specific situation and readers should not take action or refrain from taking action, based only on the information provided in this guide. Goldberg & Osborne has attempted to provide accurate and current information in this guide, but cannot and does not guarantee that the information is accurate, complete, or up to date. This guide may contain links and/or search terms that will lead to external websites as a convenience to the reader, but Goldberg & Osborne is not responsible for the content or operation of any website other than its own website. The presence of a link or a search term does not imply and is not an endorsement by Goldberg & Osborne of the website provider or the information contained on any linked website or on any website contained in search results from a search term provided in the guide.