How to avoid hiring the wrong contractor

2 min read

You're ready to tighten up your home or business, but the project is beyond what you want to do on your own. Use this four-step guide as a checklist to help you find the right contractor.

Step 1. Find an expert

Use our online listing of Efficiency Excellence Network contractors.

Efficiency Excellence Network (EEN) contractors:

  • Are trained experts in the advanced technologies and building sciences that make buildings more energy efficient
  • Are committed to providing the highest level of customer service
  • Have access to the Efficiency Vermont discounts, rebates, and financing that make your project more affordable

We recommend that you narrow the selections to a list of less than five contractors to start.

Step 2. Prepare for your conversation

Before you start talking to contractors, it’s important to have a clear understanding of your goal or the problem you need fixed. Present as much information consistently to each contractor you interview. You might need your contractor to help you understand the source of a problem (for example, what is causing drafts in my home?).

Prepare answers to common questions your contractor may have, like the age or size of your building, current heating fuel and heating system, utility information, and any previous efficiency projects you are aware of.  Your contractor may ask you questions you didn’t think of before. As they arise, make notes for future reference as you compare contractor scopes of work.

Step 3. Do phone interviews

Call the contractors on your list and talk to them about your project. A phone interview can tell you more about what it might be like to work with a specific contractor. To help narrow your list to a few top choices, ask questions such as the following:

  • How many projects have you completed? How many do you do per year?
  • What are some of the results of your projects?
  • Do you use subcontractors? If so, are they trained in energy efficiency?
  • When could my project fit into your schedule?
  • Do you have experience with Efficiency Vermont and securing rebates for customers?
  • Do you have insurance that covers the type of work you are performing?
  • Can you provide a certificate of insurance listing me on it?
Step 4. Check references for your top choices

Once you’ve narrowed your list to a couple of contractors, check their references. This will give you the confidence to make a final decision. Here are a few questions we recommend asking the contractors’ previous customers:

  • Were you satisfied with the contractor’s work?
  • Are you as happy with the results today as you were when the project was completed?
  • Were there cost or schedule overages? If so, why—and how did the contractor handle the situation?

You can also check in with Vermont’s Better Business Bureau. You’ll be able to find out whether a contractor has a history of disputes with clients or subcontractors.