Some persons might think that these two terms are mutually exclusive, “Qualified” and “Contractor”. However, if you do your homework and put a little effort into making your decision, you can be satisfied that you are getting what you deserve…a qualified contractor.

First, we should define what we mean when we say “qualified”. Webster says,

Main Entry: qual•i•fied
Pronunciation: \’kwä-l?-?fid\
Function: adjective
1 a : fitted (as by training or experience) for a given purpose : competent

By definition there should be some way to quantify if your contractor is “qualified”.

Training. Has your contract attended and fulfilled the requirements to be certified and licensed in their field of expertise? Ask about their certifications and check their standing with the organizations that have issued their certifications. A contractor that is interested in staying current within their industry will take the initiative to be a part of local and national organizations that offer industry specific training that allows companies to gain knowledge about their particular area of expertise on an ongoing basis.

Experience. This component is easy to quantify. Asking the right questions will soon reveal to you how much experience your potential contractor has. Experience is not just the amount of years that the contractor has been in business. Reviewing pictures of past projects of similar scope and difficulty will confirm that your project will not be an experiment or used as “on the job training”. Asking for and following up on the contractor’s references is probably the most important activity that you can do to quantify experience. Interacting with past clients will allow you to ask and receive answers to the questions that are most important to you; questions on performance, quality, delivery, professionalism, etc. Don’t be afraid to ask about unmet expectations as well. If your contractor has performed well, the answer to that type of question will be short.

The most important aspect of picking a contractor is your level of confidence that they are the right contractor for you. Will they deliver the product that you are looking for? Will they create and maintain a professional work environment that will not compromise you and your family’s values? Am I willing to compromise my expectations just for price? Only you can make these determinations.

In the end the choice is yours. You need to ask the hard questions and expect answers because it is your home and your family that will be affected by the choice you make. Choose wisely.

Next Time… The Contract

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