Hiring the right contractor may be the most important remodeling decision you’ll make.
Ultimately, it determines the value you get for your investment. Choosing a reputable professional over an unqualified competitor literally means the difference between quality craftsmanship and shoddy work that costs thousands to fix.
Asking lots of questions, and knowing what to ask, goes a long way toward making your decision. Here are seven of the most important questions that any qualified contractor will be more than happy to answer.
#1: Are You Licensed and Insured?
Anything short of an unequivocal yes to this question is an automatic deal-breaker. Ask to see copies of their license and proof of insurance.
Check with local authorities to confirm that your contractor is properly licensed. In Springfield, Missouri, for example, you can check with the city’s Building Development Services Department to verify a contracting license.
All contractors should have both workers’ compensation and liability insurance. They must also have coverage for the type of work they’ll be performing on your property.
#2: How Long Have You Been in Business?
Ask about overall experience, as well as prior work on your specific type of project, such as a bathoom or kitchen remodel.
More experience generally means higher quality, and a greater ability to complete projects on time and on budget. An established contractor is likely to have a better reputation, greater local market knowledge and relationships with reliable suppliers and subcontractors.
If possible, get references from early clients to verify that the contractor is well established.
#3: Can You Provide References and Examples of Your Work?
A great contractor will take pride in their work and will gladly share examples of projects they’ve worked on.
If they’ve done exterior projects, get the addresses so you can drive by and see the results for yourself. For past interior work, ask for quality photos.
Read online reviews and contact former clients. Find out what they liked and disliked, whether they’re happy with the end results, and whether they’d recommend the same contractor to others.
Reach out to subcontractors and suppliers to learn about their experience working with your prospective contractor. Examples might include local home improvement centers, lumber yards, tile centers or kitchen and bath providers.
#4: Can I Get a Detailed Estimate?
When comparing bids from different contractors, the grand total by itself doesn’t really tell you very much.
Ask for an itemized list of specific items to be included in your project. Here are a few examples:
- Electrical work
- Lighting fixtures
- Demolition and hauling trash
Try to eliminate as many unknowns as possible by having walls, crawl spaces and other areas inspected ahead of time.
#5: Who Will Be Working on My Project?
In some cases the person who oversees the actual project will be different from the contractor who puts together your bid. Ask to meet the project manager or foreman, and visit a current job site to see how things are going.
Find out if you’ll have the same team of workers at your home each day, and which subcontractors and suppliers will be used for your project. Make sure all subcontractors are properly licensed and insured.
#6: What Can I Expect While Work Is in Progress?
Get an estimated timeline for completion. Ask for starting and ending times on work days so you’ll know when to expect workers to arrive.
Walk through the jobsite to determine which power outlets workers will need to operate equipment.
Ask about ways to protect personal belongings, such as covering furniture with a tarp or removing smaller items altogether. Ensure that crew members will wear protective shoe coverings while inside your home.
Find out if it’s okay if you’re home while workers are present. Determine whether you’ll need to temporarily move out while work is in progress, and make arrangements for children and pets.
Ask how cleanup will be handled each day. How and where will tools and materials be stored if the job takes multiple days? How often will trash be removed? Will dusty surfaces be wiped down?
#7: How Will Unexpected Changes Be Handled?
Most remodeling projects encounter at least a few unplanned issues that require changes to the original contract.
These might include a discovery of termites, faulty wiring, or leaks that must be corrected before the project can proceed. Supply chain disruptions might create delays in getting materials. Bad weather and other external factors may affect the project.
Ask the contractor about their policies for handling such developments. A change order will be required to amend the original contract so that the work can be completed.
In addition to these questions, make sure you have the right contact information for your contractor, and that they have yours. Open communication is essential for getting the results you want.
If you’re looking to remodel your home, get in touch with us at Elite Renovations & Design. We look forward to answering all of your questions and providing a free quote for your project!