How to find the right contractor to quote on your Home Improvement Project

I. How to find the right contractor to quote on your Home Improvement Project


There are many horror stories from people who engaged a Contractor to perform home improvement/renovations & the project ended in disaster.

This article will hopefully help you, the Home-Owner, minimize your chances of having your project ending in a disaster.


Over my 30 years in the industry, I have heard hundreds of stories of projects ending badly, in fact, barely a week goes by that I’m not told of another one, usually as I have been called out to assist with the aftermath.

Over the years I have noticed certain ‘common threads’ through all these stories & finally decided to draw up guidelines to avoid being a victim of a project gone wrong.



1. On large projects, like building a new home, new building, or a new wing to an existing home where plans need to be drawn up & approved, it is advisable to hire a project manager (the architect sometimes performs this role) & do the project under the JBCC guidelines.

These large projects may involve Health & Safety officers, Quantity Surveyors, a BoQ (Bill of Quantities), Payment Guarantees, Late Complement Penalties, etc. The advice below will still apply, however, you should largely be protected by the JBCC & the Project Manager.


2. Whilst the advice below will help on smaller jobs. Like those with a value below R10 000, this advice is primarily aimed at projects of higher value.  


Here is my advice:


Starting Out:

Right, so you’ve decided to embark on a Home Improvement Project, be it to:

·       Repaint the Exterior of the house, or

·       Repaint the Interior, or

·       Repaint the roof, or

·       Have a crack in one room repaired & the walls repainted, or

·       Retiling, or

·       Renovating a Bathroom or Kitchen, or

·       Having gutters &/or fascia’s replaced, or

·       Knocking down a wall to create an open-plan space, or

·       Building a new lapa/entertainment area.

·       Replacing the low front fence with a higher wall, or

·       Repaving, or

·       Whatever….

Once you’ve decided exactly what you need to be done, your next step is to find someone to do it.


Selecting a Contractor to Quote:

Firstly you need to find a Contractor, the most common place these days (with the demise of the Yellow Pages) is to do an internet search, however, a friend or colleague may have recently done a similar project & have a Contractor they recommend, or you may ask on your neighbourhood/community Facebook or WhatsApp group, no matter where you source the contractor, it is advisable to apply the Star Rating System outlined below.

Remember, if the project has a value north of R10000 it is important to try to obtain more than one quote, ideally try get three quotes.


Star Rating System:

1. Website:

No matter where you find the Contractor/s, go look at their website, if they have a Website & it’s fairly decent, allocate a Star * 1st Star


2. Google Reviews:

Check the Google reviews of the Contractor/s, there should be at least 10 reviews. The more reviews the better. The Google Review rating should be between 4.5 & 4.9.

Note that a Contractor with no Google reviews, or one with less than 10 Reviews (especially if they are all 5 Star positive reviews) should raise a red flag. Everyone gets friends & family to write a review, that’s why it is important to see more than 10. Also, read the negative reviews & how the company responded to the negative review – this will tell you a lot about both the Reviewer & the company. Also, on a very negative Review, check out the Reviewer, there are a lot of professional complainers who live to write negative Reviews, so, use your discretion if there is a horrible review from someone who has reviewed many companies & all the reviews are negative.

If there are 10+ reviews and the rating is between 4.5 & 4.9, give a Star *

You may give a Star if the rating is 5.0, but first, satisfy yourself that it is legit. 2nd Star


3. Years in the Industry:

Next is to find out how long the company has been in existence; this should be on the Website (or on their Facebook Page) or you can take a guess based on the age of the oldest Google Review.

If more than 5 years, allocate a Star * 3rd Star


4. Other

Look at other areas, for example, in one horror story the client used a company where the Contractors e-mail address was something like (for example) yet the company’s name was completely different & there was no painting involved in the project.

So, look for anything that doesn’t add up. Check Hello Peter, google the owner, etc.

Allocate a Star * if this ‘Due Diligence’ doesn’t reveal anything negative. 4th Star


Right, so now you should have two or three Contractors with, ideally, 4 Stars * each, contact them.  (Note: a phone call is far better than sending a text, using a ‘Contact Us’ form, or sending an e-mail. By nature, good contractors are out doing good work, not in the office reading e-mails, or texts), explain what you require them to quote on & arrange for them to come see you.).

 The House Doctor 2023


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