OT: How to find a contractor?

I couldn’t find the Home Repair board but plenty of METARs can probably help with this question.
A windstorm blew a large tree onto my garage on 11/4/2022, crushing it. I hired a tree service to remove the top of the tree, which was hanging over the house, on 11/7/22. They left the lower part of the tree for the insurance adjuster to see.

The insurance adjuster finally came yesterday (11/14/22). He took photos and also used a drone to film the property.

I would like to have the damage fixed before winter, if possible. How do I go about finding a contractor? Should I look under “builder” or “carpenter” or what? I want to get some estimates.


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First, get tree(s) removed (duh).

Second, get bids for teardown and rebuild of garage, etc. Figure out if there are any changes/modifications to be made so you can get what YOU want in the finished project (i.e. wider driveway, for example. Or a higher garage roof so you can store stuff “up there” and out of the way–but still accessible).


I suggest talking to people in your area. Friends, family, and groups you interact with.
This way you can get an idea of who to reach out to for a bid.

If you do just call random people/companies please ask for a list of the last jobs/referrals they did so you can call and ask how good the work is.

Second jerrab2 on figuring out what if any changes you would like to do when rebuilding/repairing.



As horrible as it is, try using Yelp. There will be some reviews and such of the contractors.

Edit: Just looked at the photos. The tree did a number on your garage. You’ll need a general contractor.

And I second everyone else. Now is a great time to make improvements. Your GM might have some ideas as far as popular garage items (heat, storage, etc.)


Cant find the category you want?

Click the Hamburger.
Find “Categories”. You’ll see a list of YOUR “favorites”. If the board you want is not there, scroll to the bottom of YOUR categories list… click the “all categories” link.
On this page, scroll down, noting the different “groups” of categories.

Building and Maintaining a Home, is under the “Personal Finances” group.



Getting recs for contractors is one of the main reasons I use Nextdoor.com. No sales calls or endless emails, unlike some of the contractor broker sites that exist.

Get at least 2, preferably 3, written estimates. DO NOT GIVE THEM CASH UPFRONT, and if you are paying in installments, keep enough for the final inspection that it’s worth their coming back to finish. Personally I prefer a contractor whose cash flow is not so tight that they need payment before completion, but that’s not always an option If they say they need cash to buy the materials, deal directly with the company that they will get them from. If you make changes to what you want done get a change order in writing.

See if you can get it tarped while waiting for them to start. We always insist on licensed and insured. In some states if you hire someone to work on your property and they get hurt, you can be held responsible for their medical costs and workman’s comp. Don’t know about WA, but PA is nasty.

Hopefully the slowdown in building will work in your favor.


Get a certificate of insurance listing you as the party being protected. Ask for (and check) references. Do not pay in advance for services to be rendered.


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Hi @WendyBG -

Sorry that you have experienced this mishap and I hope that you can recover your losses with a minimum amount of pain.

I’m not sure if you are a FB user or not, but there are FB user groups for just about everything. I’d bet that there are at least a couple of FB groups that are “local” to you. I’m not suggesting that you post a “I’m looking for a contractor…” message on those pages, as you’ll get a repeat of everything that is already there. I’d suggest that you join and search within these local groups for contractors that post pictures of their work, that are recommended by a high number of folks within that group/community then check the ones that look the best to you to ask each of them for an estimate.

It’s always a good thing to have a good relationship with a contractor or a small local contracting company that you trust, gives you a great end product - with a minimum of hassles - at a fair (not lowest) price.

I agree with others that say maybe envision what you can do with this opportunity that this mishap has afforded to you.

Best ~


Aside: if the insurance company lowballs your repair estimate, as my emu-loving company did some years ago, you may hire a mediator to force them to pay reasonable reconstruction cost.

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Word of mouth. Using a local Facebook group or Next Door as mentioned.

Do not use any other method. You need actual locals or friends to say someone is really good. Other scenarios are nightmares.

Make sure to see the work s/he has done for others. That is why asking friends is easiest. If you see very good work you know what to expect.

Insurance and license is a must. Get five estimates. You will learn something from each contractor. That is another tell tale sign you are hiring the right person when they are clearly going to do a better job than the others you interview.


In theory, this is an excellent idea. In practice, you will rarely get it for a small job. You will be able to get it when you are doing full construction or a big job that will take a few months to complete. But for repairing a garage? Probably not. Even rebuilding a garage, probably not.


@OrmontUS, I don’t know what this means.

It’s essentially “proof” of insurance. It is a certificate that shows that the business has proper business insurance (liability mostly). Most up and up contractors have insurance of course. They have their own policy that covers the jobs they do. BUT, if you want them to go to their insurance company and get a specific policy, and COI listing you as the protected party, you better be doing a BIG job with them, like building an entire house.


@MarkR everyone says to make sure that the contractor is licensed and insured. What would be the right way to verify this? I assume it would require looking at documents, not just asking, “Are you licensed and insured?”

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You ask “are you licensed and insured?” … and they say “yes” … and you say “please include a copy of your license and COI with your written proposal”.

Then you verify that the license is valid (hasn’t expired), you can even call the issuing office if you have any doubts. Also, many businesses post their license on the wall of their offices. And for the COI, similar, check the dates, and if any doubt, call the insurance company and ask if it is still in effect (that they didn’t simply pay first month of insurance bill and then stop paying).


You can look it up on the WA DOL website. At least the licensed part. Most contractors put their license number on their website and business card as well.

As a total aside, I did a big kitchen renno and used a web-based software called Asana to manage the project. It was pretty slick! Pretty sure it is free for individuals, at least it was then. You can set up timelines, dependencies, assign tasks, incorporate email, track budgets, etc. Quite fun to use. More powerful than what you probably need, but I found it to be pretty handy. I was sold enough on the project I bought some stock after the IPO, which promptly went to the moon. Then returned to Earth, nearly burning up upon re-entry.


If someone is injured on the job, then they can come after YOU (property owner). Also ask for lien waivers from subcontractors–so if the contractor does NOT pay them, the sub can NOT attach your property for the unpaid amount.

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Nextdoor app is a good source but only if you find a contractor recommended by several folks who used them. Some might be are neighbors where you can see the contractors work.


What you are doing is expected by legitimate contractors. At least in NYS, having a customer separately listed on a policy costs nothing and takes a phone call to have accomplished within a few minutes. Regardless, a copy of a contractor’s certificate of insurance showing they have an active policy is a pro-forma, but important, request.

Usually, a waiver of lien is requested from the subcontractors when a payment is made to the general contractor for the amount of the payment. Thee ability of a subcontractor to place a “mechanics lien” on a property is sometimes the only leverage they have to receive past-due payments from the general contractor. It is unreasonable to ask them to give a blanket waiver up front for the entire job, but certainly reasonable to request the waiver from both the general contractor (on their behalf) as well as the subcontractors to the extent that either a progress payment or final payment is made. It is also frequently part of the contract to retain 10% of the final payment pending final approval of the job (and this acts as an incentive to have the contractor return and finish any “punch-list” items which you have discovered during final inspection. (This is SOP in NYC, but ask around to see if these requests are customary in your neck of the woods. Regardless, they are prudent ideas).

(Who spent much of his adult life as a construction subcontractor)


Asking for the license and insurance is very common.

The contractor will have it on him or her.

The issue is the person who can not provide it. Run for the hills!