Last summer, we noticed a rusty colored circle had appeared on our living room ceiling. It was a sure sign we probably had a leak in our roof. It is a sight no one likes to see, because a roof repair is usually a high cost repair. When you own a home or a car and you find a problem, you know repairs don’t often come cheap. It is inevitable that big and small items that you own will eventually break down or get damaged in an accident. The trick to surviving these little disasters is to be prepared when these problems occur. If you are prepared you, can avoid getting ripped off on home and car repairs.
Talk to People You Know
One of the best ways to find reliable companies to do work on your home or your car is to ask around. Talk to you friends, neighbors and co-workers to see who they recommend. I’ve found several of our best service companies by word of mouth from our friends and family. My friends also know I’m a huge research nerd and very picky so they will often come to ask me who we use. If you have a nerdy friend like me who enjoys vetting companies that do work on their home or car, don’t be shy about asking them for names.
Do Your Research
If you ask people you know who to use and no one really has any suggestions, it is time to do a little research of your own. This task is so much easier to do with the internet. Whenever I start looking for a new company I start start by going to the Yelp review website. I look up the type of service I need and then I filter them by highest number of good reviews. Next, I make a list of the top 3-5 companies I find. I will then go to their review page and read several reviews. I always read good and bad reviews. Most companies that have been in business a while will have a few bad reviews. If you see a pattern in the types of complaints a company gets, you will probably want to steer clear of them.
I also like to use Yelp because you can see how business owners respond to a bad review. How a company handles problems is as important as the service they give. Next, I check out Google reviews, Angie’s List and the Nextdoor neighborhood app. It also doesn’t hurt to check the Better Business Bureau website for complaints as well. I find that by checking out several review sites I can get a better picture of the company I am considering working with.
Make Sure They Are Licensed and Insured
You often hear about seniors getting ripped off through home repair scams. It can be easy to make a company look legitimate, so that is why it is best to make sure that the company you are using is licensed and insured. The best way to do this is to do an internet search for your state’s contractor’s license board. Every state has one and you can easily look up if the company or contractor is licensed and how much insurance they carry.
Call for Estimates
Once you have narrowed your list down to a few companies, call for estimates. I find this will quickly eliminate one or two companies. Either you leave a message and you never hear back from them, they are just rude, or they want to charge you high fees to come out. For some companies it is standard to charge for a service call. Companies that generally charge for a service call are cable companies, plumbers, appliance repair and heating and cooling repair.
Review All Estimates
A written estimate from a company is a good way to evaluate them and compare them with other companies. Often estimates are similar, and you just pick a company to work with based on their availability and your schedule. When two companies have vastly different quotes for a similar job it can be a red flag, but also an opportunity to get to know a company.
When our roof was leaking I narrowed it down to two companies based on my prior research. One company told us it would cost less than $1000 to repair it. The other company said they needed to redo the whole roof for a cost of $8000 because they could not match our roof tiles exactly. I called both companies and I asked questions. I asked the first company how they could do such a low cost repair if our roof tiles could not be matched. The owner I spoke to gave a great answer about how they would match them up and there was no need to do the whole roof at this time if we didn’t need to. That was when I knew this was the company we would have repair our roof. The owner was transparent and the company did a great job. Best of all? No more leak.
Expect Good Service
Don’t be afraid to expect good service from any company. They are only reliable if they do good work and follow through. If you use a company consistently and they always do the job well, they are a keeper. Keep their number on speed dial for the next time any kind of home or car repair disaster occurs.
Don’t Be Afraid to Let Go
If you are working with a company and their service starts to slip. Don’t be afraid to cut ties and find a new company. We worked with one pest control company that did a great job for us for years. After about 5 years, the service really began to slip. Despite multiple calls to management, they could never fix the problem. So I went through the process of finding a new company and we couldn’t be happier. Like any bad relationship, you can only try so hard before you say goodbye.
Compile a List Before Disaster Strikes
Finally, the best way to avoid getting ripped off on home and car repairs is to have a list of reliable companies on hand before disaster strikes. It is difficult to ask friends for recommendations or choose a reasonable and reliable company if you are dealing with a plumbing leak or other disaster in the middle of the night.
If you don’t own your own home yet, but you may be looking soon. Check out these posts.
How do you avoid getting ripped off on repairs? Share in the comments below?