If you need help with a job or project, hiring a contractor could be the perfect solution. Of course, finding the right contractor can be an overwhelming task. Fortunately, there are a variety of online resources available for free to help you connect with nearby businesses and service providers.
In this article, I’ll take a close look at a few of the most popular online services for hiring freelancers, contractors and professionals.
The Top 4 Services and Apps for Hiring Contractors and Freelancers
All four resources were available for free online and as apps for iOS and Android devices. I signed up online and downloaded each app before searching for painting and cleaning services in my area. At the end of the process, I found that while all four resources were efficient and reliable, there were definite pros and cons with each.
Before deciding on any contract or freelance service provider, money expert Clark Howard recommends comparing quotes and reviewing references. You can do this by contacting a few different contractors in your area. If you aren’t sure where to start, consider checking out the following resources to get connected with contractors:
|Thumbtack||Free||Home improvement, wellness, pets, business, design, legal, photography, repair and more.||Money-back guarantee up to $1,000
Property damage guarantee up to $100,000
Optional membership $29.99 per year.
|Home improvement, auto repair, health care, pets, design, event planning and more.||Happiness guarantee (have the service redone or get compensation)
Damage protection up to $50,000
|HomeAdvisor||Free||Home improvement, maintenance, repair and more.||Happiness guarantee (have the service redone or get compensation)
Damage protection up to $50,000
|TaskRabbit||Service fee and Trust & Support fee added to the hourly rate of the contractor. The fee amount varies.||Cleaning, furniture assembly, delivery, repair, running errands, moving and more.||Property damage, injury and theft protection up to $10,000|
Below, you’ll find more detailed information about each resource including what services are available and what to expect while searching for a contractor. I’ve also included tips I’ve learned from my research that should help make the process of hiring a contractor online even easier for you!
Thumbtack is a great resource for connecting with local professionals. You’ll find contractors and nearby businesses that specialize in a range of services including home repair, auto services and even health care.
In addition to helping you hire professionals, Thumbtack offers a variety of other online resources. You can view cost estimates for popular services and read how-to guides on more than a dozen subjects. You can also check out the website’s guides for projects or read advice from Thumbtack’s editors in the commonly-asked questions section.
To find a professional using Thumbtack, simply search for the type of service you’re looking for and enter your ZIP code. From there, you’ll be able to see nearby professionals, read verified reviews, request quotes and more.
Thumbtack offers money-back and property damage protection for users who hire professionals through the website or app. You can read more about the Thumbtack Guarantee online.
For more detailed information on Thumbtack including how to find a professional, request quotes and more, be sure to check out these three things to know before signing up.
Tip: If you decide to use Thumbtack, search for contractors and businesses with “Top Pro status” badges on their profile.
When you think of online services for hiring contractors, Angi— formerly Angie’s List— is one that most likely comes to mind. This company is owned by ANGI Inc., and it’s a great way to find nearby professionals in nearly any field.
Angi also offers online resources including free expert advice in the Solution Center. The Pricing Guide is another tool available on the website and in the app. You can use it to see the average costs for a variety of projects.
When you first create an account, you’ll join the free Green membership plan by default. With the free membership, you can view nationwide ratings and reviews and access service professionals. There is an additional membership option with added perks for $29.99 a year. But I found that the free membership is all you need to hire a quality contractor.
Each professional listed on Angi has an overall rating (1-5) based on customer feedback. Be sure to take this rating into consideration as you research. If a company is Angi Certified, that means it has met additional high standards. Angi also prides itself on offering reviews you can trust, which makes it a great resource for researching a contractor before you hire them.
For more detailed information on Angi including how to find a professional, request quotes and more, be sure to check out these four things to know before signing up.
Tip: Use Angi to find professionals in your area, read verified reviews and collect business information, but call the professionals you’re interested in directly and request a quote yourself.
Features: Home improvement, maintenance, repair and more
Like Angi, HomeAdvisor is also owned by ANGI Inc.. However, this website specializes in home improvement, maintenance, repair and related categories. Unfortunately, there’s no longer a standalone app for HomeAdvisor; instead, you’ll be directed to use the company’s sister app Angi.
Using HomeAdvisor, you can find prescreened local professionals, request quotes and book appointments. You can even search for fixed-price services that allow you to see the total cost of a service upfront. Keep in mind that when you book this way, you won’t be able to compare quotes or view any information about the professional who will complete the job.
Alternatively, you can use HomeAdvisor’s ProFinder tool or browse the directory to compare and connect with nearby professionals. Clark recommends always gathering several quotes and references before deciding whom to hire.
If you use the ProFinder tool, you’ll be matched with one, two or three nearby professionals that HomeAdvisor recommends for your project. You can choose to be connected to a matched professional instantly, or you can send them a message requesting a quote.
Note that when you book and pay for home services with a company that HomeAdvisor has chosen, you’ll be covered by the HomeAdvisor Happiness Guarantee. That means you’ll be eligible to get the work redone or be compensated if you aren’t satisfied with the final results.
For more detailed information on HomeAdvisor including how to find a professional, request quotes and more, be sure to check out these three things to know before signing up.
Tip: Use the directory to dig deeper on your options, gather quotes and compare businesses. You’ll see more results and be able to make a more educated decision on whom to hire.
Unlike the other online services, TaskRabbit is not a resource for finding licensed professionals. Instead, you’ll find local freelancers and contractors who offer personal experience and expertise in a wide variety of categories including furniture assembly, cleaning, delivery and repair.
When you search for a freelancer or contractor (“Tasker”), you’ll be able to see an exact hourly rate before booking your task. The hourly rate includes a service fee. Once the task is complete, you’ll see an additional “Trust & Support” fee on your final invoice. The total amount for the service fee as well as the trust and support varies.
To find a Tasker, search for the type of task you need to be done along with your ZIP code. From there, you’ll be able to compare nearby contractors and freelancers by viewing their hourly rates and reading reviews from previous clients.
If you decide to hire a Tasker, you’ll immediately see a temporary $1 charge on your credit card. The final amount won’t be due until after the project is complete. If you need to cancel the service, you’ll have until 24 hours before the scheduled start time to cancel without penalty.
Additionally, the TaskRabbit Happiness Pledge covers clients for up to $10,000 worth of property damage, injury or theft under certain conditions.
For more detailed information on TaskRabbit, including how to find the best Tasker for the job, be sure to check out these five things to know before signing up.
Tip: If you see “Elite Tasker” on someone’s profile, it means that they are one of TaskRabbit’s highest-rated Taskers and have maintained additional high standards.
Pros and Cons
While all four resources will help you connect with local freelancers and professionals for free, each one works a little differently. When I went through the process of downloading the apps, creating accounts and requesting quotes, I found the following major pros and cons with each company:
|Thumbtack||- Money-back guarantee|
- Simple, convenient app and website
- Additional resources (how-to guides and cost estimator)
|- Not all reviews are verified
- Search results can't be sorted
|Angi||- Reliable reviews|
- Professionals in all major categories
- Additional resources (videos, expert tips, pricing guide)
|- Spam email
- Quotes come in different forms (messages, texts, calls, etc.)
|HomeAdvisor||- Instantly connect with professionals|
- Fixed pricing option
- Additional resources (expert tips and tutorials)
|- Limited search results
- Spam email
|TaskRabbit||- Upfront hourly rates|
- Same-day Taskers available
- $10,000 damage, injury and theft protection
|- Service fee
- Additional Trust & Support fee
- Not licensed professionals
- No contact prior to hiring
Ultimately, each of these four resources allows you to connect with qualified contractors and freelancers in your area. I was able to see nearby listings, read reviews and compare quotes/rates for free using each. But, if you don’t want to create four different accounts, here’s my advice on which service to sign up for:
- For major home improvement or maintenance projects, you’ll most likely find a qualified, experienced professional on HomeAdvisor and/or Angi.
- If you’re looking for a professional in other areas such as health care or auto repair, check Angi and/or Thumbtack for the best results.
- Lastly, if there’s a smaller project you need assistance with such as cleaning or moving, you’ll likely find a great price for a qualified freelancer on TaskRabbit.
No matter where you decide to look for recommended service providers in your area, take the time to gather quotes and compare reviews. For more tips on hiring a contractor, check out these six tips.
Have you hired a contractor using any of these services? Let us know about your experience in our Clark.com Community!