Last year we bought our first house and since it’s an older house we’ve needed many items checked out/fixed/repaired. I used the free service homeadvisor.com and it was fine with getting contractors to call me instead of me calling them. There are also some reviews there but not a lot. I used the site to find a wood floor subcontractor and he worked out well for us.
However, there are no coupons on that site, so when we needed gutter work I used numbers I got from coupons I received in the mail. You know, those ValuCoupon packets. But, I could not find reviews on these businesses and it made me nervous to use them without any references.
HOW TO FIND A CONTRACTOR?
So, I turned to Angie’s List. Angie Hicks launched the company in 1995 after a friend moved to Columbus, Ohio, and had a difficult time finding reliable contractors. Now, more than 2 million homes nationwide use the service and they provide reviews on about 720 categories. There are three main categories: Angie’s List Home, Yard, Auto, Pets and more; Health and Wellness; and Classic Cars. You can search businesses based on your location.
I was pleased by the large number of Gutter contractors listed there and was able to call just a few that had grades of A and/or a Super Service Award, confident that these were reliable workers. You can easily see how many reviews a company got and most ranged from 20 to 60 reviews–more than you will find at other sites. And, in the review people put how much they spent on the service. This way, you know if the company is scamming you or not–offering the best price for the service.
One of the contractors that advertised in the ValuCoupon book that I looked up had a terrible review. He was literally at my door when I read it and immediately I sent him packing. They said don’t even let him on your roof to look at your gutter! I was relieved because I know there are plenty of contractors who are on the shady side.
And, I could tell that businesses like Angie’s List users because there were good deals offered by the merchants available only for Angie’s List members. One friend who uses Angie’s List said that the landscaper she found wasn’t necessarily the best deal in her vicinity though. So, you still have to call around amongst the offerings to find the best price and still ask your neighbors who they use…i.e. Do your research.
But, Angie’s list significantly narrowed down my search and I now have a list of go-to people like plumbers, electricians, window repair, HVAC, pool service, basement waterproofing and more. It’s good to have a researched list so that when you do have a plumbing leak you aren’t scrambling to find someone at the last minute!
Most of the major contracting categories have plenty of reviews. Some surprising categories are Website Design and Development (a good number of reviews), tutoring (not many reviews), Home warranty companies, dry cleaners (1 to 8 reviews), child care center (1 to two reviews per business). Note: those were from my address as the starting point, results will differ by location. The best bet is if you are looking for a painter, pest control, locksmith, moving company, chimney sweep, air duct cleaning, etc.–those kinds of businesses have large numbers of reviews (maybe because of the scam potential with these categories).
You’re probably worried that the business can just get their friends to write good reviews for them. But, unlike Yelp, with Angie’s List you have to pay to be a member and businesses are not allowed to post reviews on their own listing. They do respond to other’s customer’s comments, though. Also, a team at Angie’s List uses algorithms and human intervention to sniff out problematic reviews each day.
HEALTH AND WELLNESS
This is a new specialty for them and I did a sample search for some categories. For pediatric allergist there were a few reviews (I recommend Ziv Harish in Englewood, by the way) but not a lot. Pediatric dentistry was the same. The Pediatric Primary Care category had a lot of reviews (5 to 20).
For women, they only had one entry in Breast Imaging but OBGYN had 5 to 20 reviews per listing. I just wish there was a way to exclude NY results as many of us won’t be crossing the bridge to get services, right?
The Health and Wellness section needs more reviews so hopefully people can start adding reviews in this area.
Membership prices range by market. If they are building up a market that you happen to live it it is free (obviously they are trying to garner reviews).
For my area, if I wanted Angie’s List for Home, Lawn, Car, Pets and more it’s $3/month with a $10 sign up fee. One year it’s $26 with no sign up fee. Health and Wellness is an additional $1.50 per month or $10.25/year. You can get the bundle too $3.60/month or $29/year.
For $13 the first month I think it’s well worth it to try out for a month to see if you like their services. Getting the yearly fee membership will save you around 28% to 44% so that’s also well worth the investment if you want to try it out for a year. There are no free trials offered, though.
If you are moving into a new house or starting a remodel I highly recommend Angie’s List. Also, if you don’t like having to bother your neighbors for recommendations all the time, this is a great way for you to actually be the one PROVIDING advice on local services. Hmmm…in that case you might want to keep your membership a secret 🙂
Use this link to find out the rates in your area: Angie’s List New Membership Fee.
Note: I was not compensated to write this post, however Angie’s List did provide me several weeks of free membership so that I could fairly write this review.