Word of mouth
Searching the Internet or the newspaper is not necessarily the best way to find a good contractor. The best contractors don’t have to advertise too much, as they usually get a lot of referrals from satisfied clients. Ask friends, colleagues and neighbours, or place a message on your neighbourhood Facebook page to see which consultants are recommended. Ask what made the experience a good one and if they would use the same contractor again.
Once you’ve made a list of people that you feel could handle the job, ask them for their credentials. Ensure that the contractor belongs to a builders association. Master Builders South Africa (MBSA) is the leading national representative body in the building and construction industry in the country. Also, make sure that their plumbers belong to a reputable institute. The
Institute of Plumbing South Africa (IOPSA), for example, offers the consumer the following benefits:
The institute has accredited all members, ensuring that their workmanship is up to standard.The plumbers that belong to the institute have access to the latest in technical support. Consumers can contact the institute if there are any problems with the standard of workmanship carried out by their members, and they will take responsibility and sort out the problem.
The IOPSA has guidelines of plumber service rates to ensure that you are not overcharged.
Once you’ve narrowed down your list to well-recommended contractors with the right credentials, it’s time to interview them. Speak to at least three candidates to establish which one you can relate to best. It’s important to get the feeling that the contractor is a good listener and is on your side. You need to trust the person that you’re working with and not feel intimidated by them.
Get cost estimates
Estimates are free and these can give you a good indication of what the job will cost. Present the same job and specifications to all of the contractors so that you can compare “apples with apples” so to speak. Take the time to choose materials and fixtures yourself, as you may not agree with the quality or finish chosen by the contractor. Be wary of a contractor that comes in with an estimate that is substantially cheaper than the others, as the old adage of “getting what you pay for” often rings true. In fact, homeowners who settle for rock-bottom prices are often not as satisfied with the final product as those who are willing to pay more.
Once you’ve established a rapport with a contractor, ask for references and phone former clients to see if they were happy with the work they did for them. Ask the following questions:
Was the project on budget?
Did the job finish within the specified time bracket?
Where they happy with the final outcome?