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Updated: May 15, 2023

It can feel like an overwhelming task to find the right person to translate your home improvement project you have created in your mind. You want to make sure that the finished work is the masterpiece you envisioned but where do you even begin? Here are 6 tips we have formulated in our 25+ years of experience in the construction field.

Contact us today for a free estimate and to provide you with our expert opinions and a fresh perspective today!

Tip #1 - Ask friends and family for trusted recommendations to start and THEN branch out!

The best place to start the process is to ask friends and family and then expand your request to a broader group such as a local Facebook community group (remember just because it is on the internet does NOT make it true). If you are looking to take on an expansive remodel or renovation, don't be afraid to stop there for recommendations. You can get creative with a visit to your township building inspector's office, as they can potentially let you know which home renovation contractors routinely meet code requirements. Another way you can expand your search is by hitting up your local building supply company to see if they can provide names of contractors who regularly order supplies and which ones buy quality materials and also pay their bills on time.

Tip #2 - Do a phone interview. Good communication from the onset is key!

Once you have a list of potential contractors, save yourself some time by making a quick phone call to each of them and ask some basic questions like these:

  • Do they take on projects of your size?

  • Can they give you a list of references for similar projects?

  • How many other projects would be concurrently taking place with yours?

  • How long have they worked with their subcontractors?

The answers to these simple questions will begin to paint a picture of what your contractor is like as a whole - you get valuable insight into their availability, reliability, how much individual attention you will receive, and how smoothly the work will go overall.

Tip #3 - Always ask for valid Contractor License# and Proof of Insurance!

Do NOT take a Contractor's word for it if they claim they are licensed and insured. Many companies offer the ability to provide their insurance and contract license validation in real-time. For example, you can view our current certificate of insurance in real-time here and you can validate our contractor license with the State of NJ here.

If they make excuses or delay significantly don't ignore the red flag warnings.

Tip #4 - Meet face to face for estimates & pay attention to follow-up time.

If your initial call to a contractor went well, have them come out for an estimate and further discussion. A contractor should be able to answer your questions satisfactorily and in a manner that puts you at ease. Pay attention to the contractors who are attentive to your specific requests but also offer alternative solutions you might not have considered. They may not be the cheapest, but their experience and knowledge could save you money in the long run. Remember that the person in front of you will potentially be in your home for hours at a time. You should be comfortable with them from the onset, but don’t let personality fool you either. You can always check in with your state’s consumer protection agency and your local Better Business Bureau to make sure the contractor doesn't have a history of disputes with clients or subcontractors.

Tip #5 - Always insist on a written estimate with payment terms well defined.

A diligent contractor will be willing to provide a detailed written estimate to ensure that all your expectations as the homeowner will be met. To compare bids, ask everyone to break down the cost of materials and labor and articulate all homeowner responsibilities, such as provision of a dumpster if that is not included in the quote, for example. Another important tip for hiring a contractor is to workout a payment schedule ahead of time. Payment schedules can speak to a contractor’s financial status and work ethic. Ask if they offer financing and verify which credit cards they accept in advance.

Tip #6 - Don't let price be your only guide!

You can almost always throw out the lowball bid, unless you are being offered a special rate as a friend or a family member. Typically, lowball bids are a sign that a contractor is either cutting corners or, worse, desperate for work—hardly an encouraging sign in a healthy economy. Beyond their years of experience, remember that communication & your comfort level with a contractor are the most important factors. ALWAYS make sure you get all changes and costs in writing BEFORE authorizing additional work. For larger projects, consider requesting a contract that details every step of the project: payment schedule; proof of liability insurance; a start date and projected completion date; specific materials and products to be used; and a requirement that the contractor obtain lien releases (which protect you if he doesn’t pay his bills) from all subcontractors and suppliers BEFORE you make your final payment.

Finally, remember that as soon as a change is made or a problem uncovered, the price just increased and the project just got longer, no matter who the contractor is. The four most expensive words in the English language? “While you’re at it….”

Contact Taps today for a free estimate to complete your next home improvement project! Call us at (844) USE-TAPS or email us at

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