If you live in New York city and want to find a contractor, you may face some unique challenges. After all, New York real estate is a different animal from other cities. From brownstones to high-rises to two-family homes, there is a plethora of diverse types of residential real estate in New York City. And that does not even get into the many types of commercial real estate. So how do you find a contractor who will be right for you in the big city? Here are some tips:
Ask your friends and family
This is a good first step in finding a contractor - asking around for personal references for contractors. Doing so can let you know positive and negative experiences that others have had. Ask your friends and family for the truth - whether they had a good, bad, or ugly experience with a contractor.
Websites like Yelp, Angie's List, and ServiceMagic can give you additional information on contractors, including reviews from happy - or unhappy - customers. However, it is important to take such information with a grain of salt. Sometimes, people will complain about service for their own reasons - sometimes they are cranks, sometimes they are competitors, and sometimes there may be a dispute over billing - so keep that in mind. The same goes for positive reviews - they may not be "real." So you should look at the aggregate number of reviews, and see if they seem real to you. See what the average review is like, and ignore the outliers, whether positive or negative.
Ask for references
Getting positive references is a good idea, although this does not tell everything. What you could ask for as well are references from five years ago or more. That will show two things - that the contractor has been in business for a long time, and that they do work that will leave customers satisfied over the long haul. For example, if a contractor puts in new cabinets in a kitchen, the customer could be happy initially, but if the cabinet doors start falling apart after six months, they might not be as pleased with the work. So keep that in mind.
Check on licensing
It is important to consider when looking for a contractor that they are licensed in New York City. Go to NYC.gov to get started at reviewing their licensing. You should also look to see if there have been complaints or even lawsuits filed against them.
Get a local contractor
It does not do you much good to find a contractor who is stationed in the Jersey Shore to do New York City work. Sure, they may cost less, but traffic in NYC is very problematic, and you do not want to have a contractor who is stuck in traffic half the time instead of working on your home or business.
Ask for bids from at least three contractors. You should dismiss the too-cheap or too-expensive bids: the too-expensive ones because you cannot afford it, and the too-cheap ones because they may be cutting corners. To learn more about contractors in NYC, click here.
Lisa Swan writes for a variety of home improvement sites. She lives in New York City.