HGTV's Mike Holmes Is A Fan Of References When Hiring A Contractor - Here's How Many

Professional contractor Mike Holmes is all about getting the job done right the first time. He has seen shoddy work that cost homeowners a surplus of time and money. Worse yet, bad construction can compromise the safety and integrity of the home. To avoid your dream renovation turning into a nightmare, you need to find the right contractor. Unfortunately, we all can't hire the "Holmes on Homes" star, but we can take his advice.

When it comes to finding the right contractor, Holmes recommends getting references — and lots of them. Ten or 15 might sound like enough, but the sweet spot for the HGTV host is 20. The right number of references can be the difference between hiring a professional developer that cuts corners and one who cares about getting the job done flawlessly. However, your work doesn't stop with getting a list of references. You also have to vet those testimonials.

Speak with all 20 references

Hiring just any contractor is one of the top renovation blunders you should avoid. It is a seed that reaps disaster. "Picking a contractor is like dating," Mike Holmes told Florida Times Union. "Do your research, ask for at least 20 references, and take the time out to call all 20."

A potential contractor should be able to supply you with a diversified profile of past clients. A thorough list of references will include the name, address, and phone number of the homeowners as well as information on the completed job, like price and repair details. A quality, experienced contractor will have hundreds of clients to show for his work and will gladly flaunt his projects. Generally, they will give you three to five of their best jobs and it is your responsibility to push for more and do your research.

Question the past clients about the constructor's ability to stay on schedule and within the budget. Did he leave the worksite clean? What stood out about his work? How did he handle problems that arose? What were his strengths and weaknesses? It is an extensive process, but it is all so you can "be sure to pick someone you can trust," Holmes shared. 

References on referral sites don't pass Mike Holmes' inspection

It is tempting to use referral sites like Angi's or HomeAdvisor to find a contractor. You can locate a professional in your area with loads of five-star reviews. It sounds like an easy solution, but Mike Holmes doesn't recommend it. With referral sites, there is sometimes a gray area on how they pick the workers they advertise, if the reviewers are actual customers, or if they perform background checks. Plus, you don't want to just read testimonials but call and talk to the references with your Holmes-approved questions.

Another thing referral sites won't be able to offer that the HGTV star suggests is visiting the projects from the contractor's references. Calling past clients is one thing, but you should also visit a few properties if the homeowners are willing to let you. "Go see the work," Holmes urged on CTV Your Morning. He compares it to car shopping. "You're not gonna buy a car on the phone. You're gonna go see it, test-drive it, play with it." Visiting the reference jobs in person allows you to see the fine details of the contractor's work and how it has held up since completion.

Twenty references are a lot, but it is enough so you can trust that the thousands of dollars you spend will be worth it. Listening to the testimonials, questioning references, and seeing the work firsthand are the best tips for hiring a home remodeling contractor.