Angies List Contractor Checklist
May 15, 2011
Finding the right contractor for the job takes some work but it’s effort that will pay off with quality work and a fair price. As I’ve mentioned in the past, my approach is to find the top 3 or so contractors or companies on Angies List a get a price estimate from all three.
Unfortunately for our budget, our back patio needs to be mudjacked so I went through my usual contractor search process yesterday afternoon. I actually ended up calling 5 different places – I left a message with one of them, the second one specialized in foundation work, and I made appointments with the other three.
Everytime I go through this process I end up with a piece of scrap paper with a list of company names, phone numbers, appointments, notes, etc scribbled on it. More than once I’ve misplaced my list which makes it a pain to remember who I called, who I liked, and who’s coming to give estimates (and when).
So this time I decided to make a spreadsheet template I can use each time I have a big project I need to get bids for. It’s actually too bad Angie’s List doesn’t have a feature like this built into their site for members, I imagine it would get a lot of use. They’re pretty good about listening to customer feedback, maybe they’ll read this and add it.
But for now, here’s a link where you can download the template. Of course you don’t have to find contractors on Angies List in order to use the spreadsheet. Anytime you’re researching companies and getting bids you can keep track of everyone you’re considering with this tool. However you find your list of potential companies, first add them to the spreadsheet. You can always add more as you go but I’d start with at least three contractors so you can get a range of bids.
If you’re busy like me you may not get to all of the companies in one sitting so it helps to include the date you called them. This can help you remember which you’ve talked to and which you have to call still. In my case there was one that really sounded good, they had great reviews but they didn’t answer their phone so I left a message. Recording the day you called also lets you keep track of how long it’s been since you contacted them. If I don’t hear back by Tuesday I’ll probably try again, or you may decide if it’s been 3 days with no response you don’t want to hire them because it could be sign of how responsive they are.
There’s also a place to record the day/time of any appointment you make. When you’re dealing with several contractors it helps to keep track of who is coming when. You don’t want to miss the initial appointment because in a way they’re evaluating you as well. If you don’t show up for your first meeting they might decide that you’re not worth their time.
I also include approximately how long it will take them to start the work if you decide to work with them. If it’s an urgent issue and one contractor can start weeks before the others that’s a good thing to know.
If they give you an estimate over the phone or after they’ve come and given you a bid you should record it in the spreadsheet. This can help you compare the different contractors and also helps you remember how much each one bid. It’s not a good surprise if you get the bids mixed up and after choosing to work with one you find out the cost is higher because you lost track of which bid was from each contractor.
Some companies will give you an Angies List coupon if you found them via the service. Most businesses will ask how you got their name and I always mention that I saw them on Angies List.
Some places offer a fixed amount off their services and others do it a a percentage. Typically if they do offer an Angies List discount it’ll mention it in their company description as shown here.
If you only go with companies that have an A rating, like I have, then you might not use this field. However, Angies List does have several different sub-criteria that members use to rate contractors (Price, Quality, Responsiveness, Punctuality, Professionalism).
They could have a B in a few sub-categories and still have an A rating overall. It’s nice to note any B ratings so you can be aware of those when you’re evaluating providers and trying to choose between two of them.
I actually have two different places to keep notes in the spreadsheet. One of them is to keep track of anything you find out in your phone calls or face to face visits with a contractor. For example, I found out that one of the companies worked mainly on house foundations and didn’t do much with patios. I’d prefer someone who had experience with patios so I moved that company to the bottom of my list and made a note of why.
The other notes section is to record anything that jumps out at you from other customer reviews. Some reviews are pretty short and don’t offer much in terms of specifics. However, some people go into detail about particular aspects of their experience – for both positive and negative reviews. If there’s anything that really stands out you should make a note of it, particularly if it’s mentioned by more than one person and you see a pattern emerge.
Once you’ve spoken to all the candidate companies and have all your observations in your spreadsheet, alot of times the information you’ve gathered will make it easy to choose a contractor. If you do find two that are pretty similar and you’re having a tough time deciding between them, hopefully having the detail you’ve captured in an easily comparable list will make your decision easier. Some of the spreadsheet columns, like Angies List coupons and customer reviews, won’t apply if you’re not using Angies List – but the others will.
So, whether you’re using Angies List or not you can use this tool to compare contractors and find the one that should do the best work at the most reasonable price. Good luck!
All posts by Ben Edwards