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How to Find an Honest Contractor

Severe weather may be approaching with the arrival of the winter months and in Wisconsin can happen at any time. If Mother Nature or other factors damage your home, you may need to call a professional for help. Unfortunately, not all professionals are looking out for a homeowner’s best interest. After natural or man-made disasters, unscrupulous contractors try to profit from a community’s misfortune.

You may not be able to stop unexpected damage to your home, but a fly-by-night contractor is one disaster you can prevent. There are a few simple steps you can take to ensure you hire a reputable professional. You can follow these guidelines when evaluating any potential contractor, whether for post-disaster repairs or a planned renovation to your home.

Here are some guidelines to keep in mind:

Price and payment

  • Don’t get pressured into signing a contract immediately. You should not be told that you need to sign a contract that day or risk a price increase.

  • Paying a deposit of anywhere from 20 percent to 50 percent is typical; however, you should not be asked to pay the full cost in advance before work begins.

  • Make sure you’re comfortable with the payment options. You should not be asked to pay cash to a salesperson instead of a check, money order or credit card.


  • Confirm that the contractor has a verifiable mailing address for their business.

  • Check the State of Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) public look up website to ensure the business is properly licensed. A wide variety of trade businesses are required to be licensed and complete continuing education regularly including electrical, plumbing, HVAC and construction. See the list of professionals required to be licensed in Wisconsin.

  • Ask the contractor to provide references for past work and be sure the references can be reached.

  • Check out the business on consumer review sites such as HomeAdvisor, Houzz, etc. Remember to take the good with the bad when reading online reviews.

Contract and completion

  • Be cautious of anyone who tells you that “a contract won’t be necessary.” Insist on a complete and clearly written contract signed by you and the contractor.

  • Ensure the final payment is due once the job is completely finished and you are satisfied. Find out if any of the work requires city or county inspection, confirm that it is done and that you have paperwork proving it before making the final payment.

Following these guidelines will help you select a contractor who will do quality work and stand behind it. Find a reliable contractor with an established business in our community, by searching LBA’s online directory on this website.

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