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Q&A With Your Contractor

The tips you need to help you choose the ideal licensed specialist for your home improvement project, whether you're repainting, going solar or embarking on a whole home remodel

For most homeowners, the hardest part of any home improvement project is finding a competent and reliable contractor to do the job. Installing kitchen cabinets, knocking down walls, and laying new tile are all straightforward tasks, but finding a specialist who’s skilled, licensed, and easy to work with can feel overwhelming.

“Our home is our safe place,” says Erin Levine, director of accredited business services with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) Serving the Pacific Southwest. “So if you’re inviting someone in to perform work there, you want to know you can trust them to complete the job accurately and safely, and to the agreed-upon specifications. You also want to trust the track record of the company to make sure if problems arise, they will be promptly resolved and the rest of the project continues to run smoothly.”

Luckily, those nightmares are easily avoidable if you do your homework.

First, know what you want to do before anything else. If you’re doing a kitchen remodel, for instance, start with a plan and some ideas. You’ll be able to pinpoint the right person—a specialist contractor or a general contractor—for the job, and get a more accurate estimate if you can be specific about what you want and some of the materials you would like to incorporate.

Next, ask friends, family, and neighbors for references. Use the individuals you follow on social media for local recommendations. People in building trades can be great resources for contractor referrals as well. But it’s important to remember that the person who did a phenomenal job tiling your neighbor’s bathroom might not be the right contractor to build your addition. Find the company that routinely does the kind of project you want done.

From there, visit to research and verify some key information on the contractors you may be interested in interviewing. “BBB Accredited Businesses uphold our eight standards of trust, which include responsiveness, honest advertising, transparency, and up-to-date licensing,” Levine explains. BBB online business profiles include the company’s complaint and review history, which is vetted by BBB and shows past customer experiences.

Then check with the Department of Consumer Affairs at the Contractors State License Board at to confirm that a contractor’s license is current and in good standing. Verify their business address and phone number, too. A contractor operating from their truck with their cell phone might be hard to track down should there be issues after you pay the final bill.

Once you’ve narrowed the pool of prospects, get written bids. Three is considered the minimum, but five or six will give you a clearer picture of how the companies compare to one another. When you compare bids, make sure each one includes identical plans, specifications, scope of work, and materials. “Prices should be similar,” Levine explains. Be cautious of any bids that come in substantially lower than the others. The contractor may have made a calculating error, may not have included all the work in the quote, or may cut corners or use substandard materials.

Beaudry design

Beaudry design

John Beaudry

Landscape Artist, Author and Owner of Beaudry Garden Design


Q: What makes your company different from other landscape design companies?

A: Not all designers are also contractors. I can take clients through the entire project from start to finish.

I have a way of organizing plants so they feel like they belong with the place and each other. The landscapes I create become a harmonious whole that comes alive—with butterflies, bees, and songbirds. I love what I do; it’s what I’ve always done. I got my degree in horticulture and served as a senior horticulturist for the Chicago Botanic Garden before starting my company here.

Q: What questions should homeowners ask before hiring a landscape contractor?

A: Ask them about their overall vision for their company. You want to hear something other than “to make money.” Maybe they’re committed to sustainability. If the person you want to hire is a designer, inquire about who builds and who oversees the installation.

Also ask about professional affiliations, such as the Association of Professional Landscape Designers. And, obviously, you want to make sure the individual is insured and licensed. Being licensed demonstrates a commitment to the trade and guarantees the work for five years.

Q: What else should people know about you?

I started Community Green, a nonprofit whose mission is to inspire the use of green infrastructure through education, providing funding and planning for green roofs, urban forestry, waterways, and more.



Clay Mauldin

Owner of Clayco Electric Inc. Solar Specialists

2710 Alpine Blvd, Suite K-440, Alpine, CA 91901


[email protected]

Q: What makes your company different from other solar installers?

A: We’re a family-owned and employee-owned business. Our managers get a salary plus 10 percent of the sales, so they have a vested interest. Because of that, our company has been named one of the top 500 solar contractors in the nation four years in a row.

Q: What questions should homeowners ask regarding estimates from solar companies?

Ask what factors they use to decide how many panels your home needs, and find out if they can install additional panels later. Inquire about lending options, so you can get financing that works best for you. Ask about the equipment and warranties on the products they install, then check the manufacturers’ websites to ensure that the company is an approved vendor.



Omar Ennabe

President of Ennkar, Inc.

1036 W. Taft Avenue Suite 200, Orange, CA 92865


Q: What makes your company different from other mortgage lenders?

A: Ennkar’s primary focus is on home loans for the senior community. We offer unique products—not offered by many banks—designed for those at or near retirement. Ennkar also differs in our approach to qualifying, which helps us find the right product to fit each of our clients’ needs.

Q: What questions should seniors ask before picking a mortgage company?

A: They should ask their agent if they specialize in financing for seniors and if they offer products designed exclusively for the senior community. I would urge seniors to educate themselves on the options available to them before having commercial banks attempt to squeeze them into the wrong cookie-cutter loans designed for the working class. A 30-year-fixed mortgage may be the right loan for someone who is 40, but it doesn’t really make sense for someone who is 75.

Q: What else should people know about Ennkar?

I want people to know that we treat our clients like family. Really. We give them the best advice possible, even if that means referring them to another company that is a better fit for them. They should also know that right now, rates are at an all-time low. It’s a great time to consider restructuring a mortgage to increase cash flow, decrease interest expenses, and/or pay off their home faster. Ennkar will find the best product that makes the most sense for each client.

Rates are at all-time lows and we are here to help. Call today for a free consultation.

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