Hiring a Contractor: A Single Piece of Truly Invaluable Advice

Last summer, I hired a contractor for the very first time. I knew all the basic advice — get references, drop the highest and lowest bids — but past that I was overwhelmed. I eventually found a great contractor thanks to one piece of sensible advice.

"Hire the one you get along with best."

It may seem obvious (and in retrospect I may have eventually realized it) but at the time, it was well-needed wisdom. My kitchen designer Becky gave me the advice when she noticed me panicking. I'd read Marcia's great post on hiring a contractor, called friends who had worked with contractors, compiled references, scoured Angie's List, and interviewed people. I'd finally narrowed the list to three candidates, all of whom were good choices. And then I froze — which one was the best?

Once she said that, I knew immediately — it was the low-key one who was kind and straightforward. It was not the hyper-opinionated, slightly bossy one who — while knowledgeable — would likely drive me nuts. And four months and five projects later (the last one completely unexpected), I'm thrilled with my decision. We haven't had a single issue. We're similar enough that we see eye-to-eye on how things should be done, work well together, and can chat amiably at 7:30 in the morning. He calls us to talk about updates and scheduling regularly and has made some welcome recommendations. Our home looks great and everything has been clicking right along.

Obviously, you need to do all the legwork first and not rely solely your gut, But once you've narrowed your choices, don't second guess yourself. This person will be in your home for a while, and getting along with him or her will help immeasurably.

More Advice on Hiring a Contractor

Image: Brooke Giannetti for Velvet and Linen

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Kathleen is a freelance editor who lives in Chicago. She loves eclectic rooms, traveling with her family, and feeding anyone who steps foot in her house. She theoretically hates clutter, but can’t stop buying books and craft supplies.

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