The quest to find someone you trust with improving upon your investments is as essential a task as it is to find a reputable bank to house your money. Sure, you are protected by certain laws, but enforcing those, should things go south, could be a long and expensive process. Who needs the headache? Better to choose your battles and do your due diligence up front in order to save yourself time and money in the long run.

Contractors and other others within the industry, including, but not limited to plumbers and electricians should not be found via a quick Google search. Thanks to the review-driven world in which we reside, we are gifted with some research having been done for us. Look for the contractor with a high number of positive reviews, someone who is local and not an impersonal franchise offering no consistent point-of-contact with which you can steadily communicate.

Here is the caveat in your quest to find reputable contractors; many licensed professionals are simply not willing to work on mobile homes and manufactured homes.

Why? The stigma still perpetuates in mobile homes and factory-made homes. And while we will see that diminish as these homes become the go-to answer more and more with the boon of boomers scrambling to possess a home AND a disposable income, the stigma still prevails within the stories passed down from the plumber who, for example, ran into issues on a poorly built or maintained home 40 years ago.

These service professionals also may believe that someone with a high-end slab house will have more money and be easier to collect from than the stereotyped “typical” mobile-home owner.

Once you find a licensed professional willing to work on your mobile home projects, you should open a clear line of communication and maintain it. If they see that they can get countless jobs (as well as referrals) from doing business with you, you will likely see them more willing to put your jobs first and give you better pricing to ensure your happiness. And with that prioritization, do what you can to be firm in your expectations, thorough in your inspection of their work but also appreciative in their efforts. This can build a very solid and symbiotic relationship that is invaluable to your future investment planning.

Tips for Finding the Right Professional

Do NOT ever hire a solicitor going door-to-door, especially following a hurricane, flood or other natural disaster.

Any companies you are given or find on your own, check out with the Better Business Bureau. Also, run their name through a Google query with “complaint” next to it. This will provide you with insight into the number and occurrence of any unhappy customers left in the wake of a subpar contractor.

Find your contractor BEFORE you need him/her and ensure they are willing to provide free estimates.

In doing so, you are given enough time to ask questions, evaluate answers and compare to other local contractors. While many contractors may not spend a lot of time on someone without money in hand and an immediate job to do–that can also be a benefit to you. Many good contractors may be booked a few weeks out and so they can see the value in having potential work when those jobs wrap. Let them know that the jobs will likely be ongoing and you will enlist them as your go-to. Allow them to see your value, it is important and gives you credibility and more bargaining power.

If you establish a strong relationship with your service professionals, they will also be more likely to make time in a packed schedule to also work on your urgent jobs (should they ever arise).

So where does one find the cream of the mobile home crop?

A good starting  place for locating licensed contractors willing to work on mobile homes can come from talking to local mobile-home park managers.

Park managers make mobile homes their trade and interview and communicate with contractors on an ongoing basis. They may be happy to refer you to their preferred guys as most people see the benefit in networking one another in a world made steadily smaller by social media.

Also, visiting online community announcement boards, and, if you have access, community bulletin boards within mobile home communities can provide a bevy of options for contractors looking specifically to do this type of work.

Mobile home park maintenance staff may seem like a no-brainer, but they often will take side jobs and are reliable in that they do this type of work exclusively and full-time and hey–you know where to find them should they screw something up.

The Inquisition

Surely, I jest. The quest to find and build out a reliable team, and that is really what you want to ideally do, may feel a bit like an inquisition to busy contractors. But the RIGHT contractor will see your worth and the vital role he can play in keeping you in business and keeping his own calendar booked. That contractor will answer your questions and is likely to be more reliable when on a job.

So what are some of the questions you should ask?

First, do they hold a license and are they insured? If yes, check their credentials are, in fact, up-to-date.

Look further to see if they were grandfathered into their license or if they took the exam.

Are they an apprentice, a journeyman, or a master? Those are the levels, ranging from new to the trade and ending on the top of their field. You want a professional who took the test and is not an apprentice.

Do you use subcontractors, do all the work yourself or bring your own employees?

How many jobs do you work concurrently? How many at the current time?

May I have a list of references?

Do you have all the necessary equipment ready and available for the scope of most projects?

What is your warranty on the work performed?

Have you had complaints filed against you (this you should already have an idea of)?

What are your payment terms and is there any cash discount?

The Free Estimate

Being prompt is being professional. If they are late or seem to be unappreciative of your time, that is not likely to change once they are tasked with your projects.

Upon the arrival of your service tech, inform them of the issue or task at hand. Allow them to check systems and look into it but ensure they know not to remove anything until they are officially hired and a contract is in place.

Most contractors worth their salt will give you the scope of the project and options for a budget-friendly, middle-of-the-road and high-priced options.  

Obtain Written Estimates

Take the time to get three estimates. Let the contractors know they are bidding on the work and you are likely to get a better rate. Also, get line by line itemization of the work done.

You absolutely should be skeptical of a contractor who gives a single estimate all-inclusive for multiple jobs.

Look for itemized estimates and a timeline of completion on each. It’s also OK for the estimate to take a couple of days as contractors often have to verify the cost of materials for a particular system and their doing this research provides a far more accurate estimate.

Another cost-saving strategy is to purchase your own material. This leaves you simply to pay the labor on the work done. Buying material the contractor supplies is a sure way to pay a marked-up price. If you would rather not take on the extra effort to transport your own materials and ensure they are the correct items, just leave that to you trusted contractor.

Once your contractor has completed a job, review it thoroughly and voice any concerns you may have. If you have hired the right person for the job, they will listen and amend anything that was less than their agreed upon standard of work.

Finding the right people to build out your team may be trial and error for a while. When you get it right, you are likely to recognize the difference in your team’s efficiency almost immediately. Hopefully, these tips will help you minimize the error in the quest and align you more rapidly with the right professionals.

MobileHomeLiving.com, “How to Hire Mobile Home Contractors Without Getting Ripped Off,” Crystal Adkins, June 18, 2018

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