Tight labor markets are affecting industries across the country. Skilled and unskilled jobs remain unfilled as employers struggle to find prospective employees. For anyone ready to hire a contractor or handyman to perform home improvement projects, this shortage is causing frustration. As people seek ways to upgrade their homes, many are finding few tradesmen to even come to provide estimates, much less schedule the work.
Since around 2018, the United States has seen a shortage of tradespeople available to complete projects like kitchen remodels, bathroom remodels, flooring and electrical work. In addition to this, the supplies that they need to complete their jobs—including wood and metal–aren’t available due to a shortage of materials, created as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, so supply prices are skyrocketing.
If you are trying to find good people to help with home improvement projects, there are still a few ways to achieve your goals.
Here are a few tips to help you find the right professional to help with your project:
Experience Matters - When Covid hit and everyone was cooped up in their homes, the demand for contractors skyrocketed. Some out there decided to get their LLC after completing a few DIY projects around their home or for friends. Everyone has to start somewhere, but unless you have several references from people *you personally know* you should be very cautious. Anyone can surf YouTube for how-to videos and make a project *look* good. The problem with hiring this sort of contractor is that you may find the grout in that tile cracking in a year due to improper installation and/or materials. Contactors that have been in business for years have gained valuable experience along the way and likely have a loyal base of repeat customers. These contractors likely will not be your lowest quote.
Research/References - Google your contractor. Find online reviews that extend over a period of time. If they do not have an online presence in 2022, then consider this a 🚩 red flag. Ask to see images of their work. You can do a reverse image search on Google to see if they have just pulled an image of completed work online and claimed it as their own.
Interview - You are the employer and the contractor will be your temporary employee. It can be awkward to ask questions that make it seem like you are doubting the skills of the contractor in question, but ask questions.. even the uncomfortable ones. Can you SEE their contractor's license? How long have they been in business? Do they have any clients that would be willing to show you work? Contractors that can answer these questions confidently are ones that you should be able to feel confident completing your work.
Multiple Quotes - It is important to get at least 3 quotes from contractors. This helps you get a ballpark range for how much the project may cost. BEFORE a contractor comes to your home, make sure you let them know if something like having their contractor's license is a deal breaker for you. The quote process is time consuming for any contractor and communicating your specific wishes as well as the scope of the project ahead of time can save both of you time. If a contractor's quote comes in significantly lower than your other quotes, that can be another 🚩 red flag.
Patience - The sad reality is that there is a shortage of skilled tradesmen available. If you have a major home renovation project, it will take time to find the right one. If a contractor is available immediately, this is yet another 🚩 red flag. You may need to adjust expectations of the timeline of your project.
In my profession as a Knoxville realtor, I rub elbows with home improvement professionals frequently. If you have a home improvement project in mind and live in the Knoxville/Farragut areas, message me for a link to a list of my preferred vendors.