Every time I’ve had to hire a contractor, it’s always been done through word-of-mouth and referrals. For some reason, it’s not the kind of thing I search for online. When hiring a contractor for home repair, trust and good workmanship are essential. Maybe that’s why I always prefer to ask around. Or maybe it’s because that’s the best way to find the good ones, who are often too busy to set up more modern, digital forms of advertising.
I’ve noticed that the majority of contractors I know, or have learned about through referrals, rarely have an online presence. By online presence, I mean a website, or a company page on something like Facebook, LinkedIn or another form of social media. This makes it difficult to see photos of their work to assess the quality of the home repairs and to find online reviews. Though to be fair, I’ve never looked that hard because I mostly rely on the referrals. In my mind, the referral is one of the best reviews because most often the contractor has done work in that person’s house, making it a personal and intimate experience.
With some services, quotes and estimates can be attained through online services where the requestor simply fills in some details online to get some figures. With contracting work, however, quotes and estimates are done in person after a visit. I’ve tried to get ballpark estimates in advance, but most contractors I know insist on coming to visually assess the work themselves.
I suppose this is due to a combination of factors. Some contracting jobs are a lot more complicated than they seem to be from the perspective of the home owner, something that can only be assessed properly with a visual assessment. Contractors have a wealth of knowledge and experience about when a job may seem to be more complex than it first appears.
The work done by contractors is manual and tactile and it’s as though their processes are designed match. Invoices are done by hand, cobbled together in a disorganized fashion on a word document, hastily scribbled on an invoice pad, or simply itemized in the body of an email. A hold out to a fast-moving electronic environment where everything is readily available online in a digestible app form. But sometimes, you just need a plumber.