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Matthew Silkwood
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Home Management
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Last Updated: 
Published: 
April 12, 2024

How to Find a Good Contractor: Start Here

Learn how to find a good contractor using our thorough 6 step vetting process. Save time and have top-rated home service providers at your fingertips.

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Matthew Silkwood
Director Of Sales & Marketing

Who to hire

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Aledo
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Godley
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Caddo Mills
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North Richland Hills
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Ponder
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Frisco
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Midlothian
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Grandview
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Lake Worth
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University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
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Irving
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Poolville
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White Rock
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Itasca
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DeSoto
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Valley View
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Lancaster
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Lone Oak
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Springtown
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East Fort Worth
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Stockyards
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Rockwall
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Bluffview
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Old East Dallas
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Southern Methodist University
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Millsap
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Balch Springs
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Roanoke
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Oak Cliff
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Cockrell Hill
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Bridgeport
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Downtown Fort Worth
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Milford
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Ladonia
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South Fort Worth
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Southwest Dallas
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West
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Whitt
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Yale Park
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Northwest Dallas
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Willow Bend
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Paradise
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Nemo
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Chico
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Red Oak
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Wolfe City
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Bishop Arts District
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Italy
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Vickery Meadow
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Addison
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Sanger
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Celina
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Cleburne
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Perrin
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Colleyville
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St. Paul
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West Dallas
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Love Field
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Little Elm
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Quinlan
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West End
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Krum
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Newark
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North Dallas
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Hutchins
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Nevada
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Kessler Park
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Lewisville
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Design District
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Forney
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Justin
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Denton
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Uptown
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Anna
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Leonard
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Lake Dallas
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Venus
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Wylie
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Northrich
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North Fort Worth
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Alvord
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Kemp
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Farmers Branch
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South
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Sunnyvale
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Keene
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McKinney
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Decatur
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Lakewood
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Terrell
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Grapevine
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Mineral Wells
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Highland Village
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Coppell
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Murphy
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Blue Ridge
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Keller
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Stemmons Corridor
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Ennis
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Eagle Mountain

Contractor Vetting: Key Takeaways 

We’ve completed over 25,000 home services (and counting), looked at over $10 million worth of project quotes and managed $4 million worth of work on our members’ houses. We believe your house is only as good as the work completed on it.

And we’re very opinionated on the topic of “how to find a good contractor”.

We created the Home Experts List to reflect the expertise and perspective gained from running HOMR, a home management concierge. We review, assess quotes, schedule and manage home contractor services for our members — there’s no aspect of contracting we don’t touch.

  • Vetting inconsistently is extremely risky - Most homeowners lower their standards on provider quality when they’re crunched for time or stressed.
  • Our process solves specific problems with the home services industry - we run into them at scale, but they’re problems every homeowner has.
  • A certificate of insurance (or a license) is not enough - feedback from real homeowners who’ve used and lived with the product is more valuable. 
  • Our process isn’t foolproof - sometimes we miss the mark and have to remove a contractor from our network. It happens to us too.


Read on to discover our 6 step vetting process.

Want to talk to a real person about our process? Start a conversation!

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Table of contents

Our Criteria

❌ Deal Breakers

✅ The Bare Minimum

🔥 Above And Beyond

How it works?

Sign up for HOMR → Receive a confirmation text from our team → Schedule your first spray → Manage everything in one place.

No contracts, no cancellation fees. Service is paid in advance - cancellation before full payment will result in a balance due of pest control treatment ONLY.

If you love the idea of having help managing your home, checkout HOMR, our home management service. We use all of the same great contractors from the Home Experts List with a done-for-you end-to-end management of the entire process.

This Guide Will Change How You Manage Your Home

Busy work. That’s what finding a good home service provider feels like. Sifting through reviews, guessing if they’ll do a good job, or even call you back. But when you find a great contractor, who does everything perfectly - it almost makes you think the juice was worth the squeeze

The bad news: the way our home management company, HOMR, solved this problem isn’t practical for most homeowners. It’s extremely involved and labor-intensive. Here’s the simplified version: 

“Call up 500 of your neighbors, ask them for reviews on the last ten home services they bought. Now pick the best contractors from that list.” That may be too much work for the average person, but most homeowners can use this guide to save time.

If you’re confused: we run a home service concierge. HOMR is an end-to-end platform for homeowners to buy things like lawn care, plumbing repairs, and home remodels. We’ve worked with and paid 243 DFW home contractors. We’ve screened 500+.

We get recommendations for new service partners from all over the place, likely the same places you do:

  • Members of our concierge service
  • Trucks we see while going to job sites
  • Online directories like Google and NextDoor
  • Recommendations from service partners in our network

Just getting names isn’t enough because everyone uses different standards of quality. One neighbor might like a plumber because they responded quickly. Another might love a plumber that solved their niche problem, despite being hard to get a hold of. 

So we developed a 6-step process to cut through the noise and rank the best contractors and home service providers for our members.

How to Find a Good Contractor in 6 Steps

We want to find contractors that almost any homeowner would love. And each step of our process was built to solve a specific problem we ran into while picking winning home service contractors. 

Here’s the overview of what we do:

  1. Screen
  2. Interview
  3. Insurance and Licenses
  4. Test Jobs
  5. Random Quality Checks
  6. Member Satisfaction

Our goal is to get details on the things our home owners care about most.

1. Are they good communicators? - do they respond when you have a new job for them, and when you have a problem.

2. Are they reliable? Home services are hard: jobs become more complex without warning, plus traffic in a big city is always volatile. At the end of the day: do they get the job done and keep their promises? 

3. Do they actually get the problem fixed?  Do they deliver a good final work product? 

4. Do they bill quickly, and fairly? 

5. Do they stand behind their work with a warranty? 

Our process is built to find people that do those things the right way. 

Already like what we do? Talk to us about managing your home services.

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Step 1 - Screening

When HOMR started, we did what most homeowners do: look for contractors with good reviews. Problems hit right away - big companies had lots of reviews but were too expensive. Some great companies only had 1 or 2 reviews. There's both too much data, and not enough substance to give anyone a thumbs up.

We learned one important lesson from this though: disqualify a low-quality contractor before you even talk to them. 

Reviews and the Better Business Bureau are the best way to do this.

A company’s reputation may be spread out across dozens of online profiles: Angi, Yelp, Google (of course), and even places like Thumbtack. HOMR looks at all online profiles available. If you’re crunched for time and want the ‘best’ profile, just use the one with the most reviews. That often lines up with where providers spend the most time. 

There’s also an emerging issue: companies heavily “game” the review system. As they’ve become the de facto indicator of quality, we have seen an increase in “review farming.” We know of one local moving company that gives customers $50 cash to write a review after their move. Yikes!

We still use this method to screen out bad partners - an unkempt online reputation is a disqualifier for HOMR. Our research team also screens for fake reviews and review farming.

Home Experts Profiles: Screen All Contractor Reviews in One Place

We created Home Experts Profiles as a place for homeowners to screen and read all contractor reviews on one easy-to-find page. 

We wanted to be able to see a home service company’s entire online reputation in one place, and are beginning to roll this tool out for everyone on the web!

Step 2 - Interview

Not every lawn care company warranties their plants. Or installs sod. Or trims hedges. You typically don’t find out services offered, and annoying quirks by reading reviews – and it’s often hard to find on contractor websites (if they have one). You find that out by talking to them.

We personally interview every service partner on our platform to solve this problem. 

Lawn care, plumbing, electrical – every industry gets their own set of questions. You find out what’s important to ask after completing 25,000 services.

For example, here’s a few sod questions we ask lawn care companies: 

  • “What does a pallet of St. Augustine sod cost?”
  • “How long do homeowners need to water it for you to warranty the sod?” 
  • “How long does your sod warranty last?”

You don’t need to be a subject matter expert on 25 different home services. You can still screen someone with good, basic questions.

Try asking some of these the next time you call a plumber: 

  • How do you handle customer service issues?
  • What are your workmanship, labor, and product warranties?
  • Do you use subs or in-house employees?
  • How long have you worked with them?
  • How much experience do your installers (the people DOING THE WORK) have? 
Interested in home management? See exactly how HOMR works before you signup.

Step 3 - Insurance and Licenses

One of our home owners had a contractor walk off their remodel halfway through. (This was before they joined HOMR) Against all odds the contractor had an insurance policy, and their Insurance covered the repairs to finish the project.

Insurance doesn’t just cover damage - it also covers injuries to you and people on your property during the job.  Most providers will carry a $1MM policy. If you have a large home, these limits may need to be higher due to your home’s value.

HOMR requires all of our partners to carry insurance and any licenses required by their trade. They submit them as part of their application process before we verify them.

Beware: not everyone who claims to have insurance actually does. A scam we’ve run into from time to time is a canceled certificate of insurance. The company will purchase an insurance policy, and generate the certificate of insurance (COI). After they download this PDF, they cancel the policy and only pay for a day’s worth of insurance. These documents appear valid because the coverage date is 6 months in the future. 

Always call an insurance company to verify that a COI is valid.

Licenses, on the other hand, act as guarantees on workmanship. The state tells you that the service provider has a minimum level of skill. They’re also a general guarantee of minimum quality standards being upheld. 

Licenses work hand-in-hand with permits; telling a city (and the property owner) which license holder did work on a property.

Most technical trades require licenses in the state of Texas:

  • Plumbing
  • HVAC
  • Irrigation
  • Electrical
  • Mold/Lead Assessment

Don’t just ask for licenses: just like with insurance, you need to check and see if it’s current. 

In Texas, you can use the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation License Lookup Tool. Most other states have similar systems you can use to verify licensing.

Need your contractor’s license and insurance checked? We do that.

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Step 4 - Test Jobs

You ever wish you could “date” an HVAC repair company before you “marry” them with a full system replacement? 

HOMR’s staff doesn’t just sit behind a screen and rank companies. We actively manage and schedule hundreds of jobs a week. We don’t risk complex projects with unproven providers. 

New providers to HOMR are given what we internally call a “test” job. HOMR test jobs have 4 key factors:

  1. A small scope of work - New providers are given low stakes to show how they handle jobs - everything from communication to billing
  2. A representative project - Plumbers will claim they can do a cast iron replacement when 80% of their work is water heater replacements. We find it’s best to ask a partner what they do best as an example of their work.
  3. Performed on a HOMR team member’s house - When possible, we like to test new providers on our own house on our own dime to make sure it’s work we could live with
  4. An on-site review - Are employees uniformed (not a deal breaker)? Polite (definitely a deal breaker)? Clean and respectful of the property? 

If you have the time and the money - always start a provider with a low-stakes job. We find that the way contractors handle small jobs mirrors how they handle large jobs. 

Step 5 - Random Quality Checks

Avoid getting “love bombed” by your contractor. After 500 interviews, a small (but noticeable) number of home services companies were great up until they started working on a member’s house. 

Our team performs random quality checks every week. We go to our members’ jobs and provide contractors with feedback about their techs and operators. 

This helps them improve and deliver high quality service all the time — not just at the beginning of your project.

Most homeowners don’t get the advantage of a “test-drive” before they start working with a new contractor. Here are 2 things you can do instead: 

  1. Give brief, but thorough feedback throughout a job. 
  2. Call out things that you like and dislike. This drastically increases your chances of being happy at the end of the job. 

If you do this, make sure to communicate feedback in the right direction. On jobs with a general contractor (GC), we don’t recommend giving feedback to the tradesman on-site. Deal with the GC directly - preferably in a written form like text-message or email.

For single trades, chat with your technician and communicate what you want: things like taking off their shoes in the house, or if you have sleeping children. 

A regular quality check winner: Aubrey Plumbing routinely scores well in HOMR’s random quality checks. .

Step 6 - Member Satisfaction

Services are hard because you don’t know if the work is good until the end of the job. 

“Are you 100% satisfied with the work performed?”

Our home management service began asking this question at the end of every job. What we wanted to know was whether we should keep working with that home service provider. Our site could easily become a review platform, but we didn’t like the idea of subjective reviews clouding what should be an objective decision. 

Additionally, we track if the member has a punch list at the end of the job. As it turns out, the partners with the fewest punch list requests always scored the best on satisfaction.

While these are our two most important contractor satisfaction metrics, we also track other stats:

  • On time percentage
  • Number of change orders
  • Quote submission time

And other key metrics to ensure that customers are consistently getting great results on their jobs. 

HOMR partner dashboard measures customer satisfaction in contractor vetting process

Limitations - Why This Isn’t Foolproof

We are home service nerds: we like doing this work because it benefits our members and saves them time. The time we invest works for us because we may end up working with a new partner for years and send them hundreds of jobs. 

While our method is very thorough, it takes a lot of time. Onboarding and vetting one partner can take several hours to a few days. This isn’t always practical for homeowners, especially if they have an urgent request like HVAC repairs, or a plumbing leak. 

Look at the trade-off between speed & certainty. Incorporate elements of this checklist into your “home management tool belt” where it makes sense.

If you love our contractor vetting process but don’t have time to do it yourself, consider HOMR as your home service concierge.

Featured Partners

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Aledo
Godley
Caddo Mills
North Richland Hills
Ponder
Frisco
Midlothian
Grandview
Lake Worth
University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
Irving
Poolville
White Rock
Itasca
DeSoto
Valley View
Lancaster
Lone Oak
Springtown
East Fort Worth
Stockyards
Rockwall
Bluffview
Old East Dallas
Southern Methodist University
Millsap
Balch Springs
Roanoke
Oak Cliff
Cockrell Hill
Bridgeport
Downtown Fort Worth
Milford
Ladonia
South Fort Worth
Southwest Dallas
West
Whitt
Yale Park
Northwest Dallas
Willow Bend
Paradise
Nemo
Chico
Red Oak
Wolfe City
Bishop Arts District
Italy
Vickery Meadow
Addison
Sanger
Celina
Cleburne
Perrin
Colleyville
St. Paul
West Dallas
Love Field
Little Elm
Quinlan
West End
Krum
Newark
North Dallas
Hutchins
Nevada
Kessler Park
Lewisville
Design District
Forney
Justin
Denton
Uptown
Anna
Leonard
Lake Dallas
Venus
Wylie
Northrich
North Fort Worth
Alvord
Kemp
Farmers Branch
South
Sunnyvale
Keene
McKinney
Decatur
Lakewood
Terrell
Grapevine
Mineral Wells
Highland Village
Coppell
Murphy
Blue Ridge
Keller
Stemmons Corridor
Ennis
Eagle Mountain

Conclusion

No contractor vetting process is bullet-proof, but our strategy gets us closer to delivering a high quality service every time for our members.

As a job gets bigger and touches more parts of your home, the importance of choosing a good contractor grows.

It’s not practical for most homeowners to implement every single step of our vetting process. But we’re hopeful that sharing a few of our tips and outlining what we do can help you make smarter choices when hiring people to work on your home. 

If you’re tired of doing the contractor dance, take a look at our HOMR membership plans - they start at $9/month and come with your own personal concierge.

Read the next article in this series

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Matthew Silkwood
Director Of Sales & Marketing
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