Christian D. Malesic, MBA, IOM
uper contractors are plentiful and easy to find when you approach the due diligence process with purpose and foresight. The top listing in Google, largest ad in the phone book (print or digital), great website, handsome smile, or the cheapest price tell you nothing. Builders, remodelers, and trade contractors will work on your most valuable asset and prized possession—your home. More importantly, they will become your go-to expert and most trusted advisor in their area of specialty. So, how do you find the absolute best craftsmen, most trustworthy business, and the RIGHT contractor for you?
Start at the Very Beginning, A Very Good Place to Start Professional trade organizations, like the Home Builders Association Berks County (HBA), are the best places to begin your search. The criteria for membership in these associations are stringent; therefore, only the most professional and ethical companies become members. What’s more, education & continuous improvement are in the members’ blood. They know about the latest building materials & gizmos on the market, understand permitting & inspections, and know the difference between a contract, change order, and punch list (and why each legally protects both of you during the course of your project while keeping communication lines open). There are many additional professional trade associations for specialty contractors that can also be used to aid in your search. Though the best-of-the-best exca10
AT HOME IN BERKs February 2015
vators, plumbers, roofers, landscapers, etc. make it a point of joining their local HBA of Berks County (www. HBAberks.org), they often are members of their specialty trade association as well to gain knowledge specific to their trade. A quick web search for the area you are researching followed by the words “trade association” is a great place to start. Thus, when looking for a kitchen designer, a web search for “kitchen trade association” will reveal the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA). Similarly, a search for “Electrician Trade Association” will land you at the Independent Electrical Contractors (IEC).
Is Bigger Better or Does Smaller Surpass? Just because a company has a bunch of employees, advertises all the time, or “has done 10 projects in your neighborhood” does not mean that they have quality service or are proficient at the trades. On the other hand, smaller companies are not necessarily more detail-oriented or faster to respond just because they have fewer customers. There are good large companies and good small companies. You must determine which is right for you. As a rule, contractors who are constantly improving themselves and their businesses through continual education, training, and networking