10 Important Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Contractor

Renovating your home can be a huge undertaking. Hiring the right contractor can make or break the whole experience. It can affect the quality of work, budget and timeline of the project.  Here are 10 really important questions to ask before hiring a contractor.

  1. How long has the contractor been in the business?

An experienced contractor will have the know-how to conduct a successful job completion. They will have systems in play that will have projects running like well-oiled machines even if issues arise. This helps them stay on budget and on time.

  1. Are they licensed and are their employees ensured? (Workers Comp)

Before hiring a contractor take a look at their license to make sure it’s a Contractor’s License and not just a business license. Also, find out how their employees are ensured. This can limit the possibility of you having to incur extra costs should there be an accident. Contractors should have both liability insurance and worker’s compensation.

  1. Do they have a dedicated team?

Make sure they have a crew that will consistently be working on your renovation until completion. Most contractors will have multiple jobs running at the same time, so having a dedicated Project Manager can ensure your renovation is handled with care and accountability.

  1. How much will this cost?

When in the preliminary stages of estimating the cost of a project many contractors will offer a roundabout price for the whole project. A transparent contractor will be able to break down various costs for all aspects of the job. This makes it much easier to compare each contractor’s price. It also helps when considering a comfortable budget.

  1. How will they communicate with you throughout the project?

Your contractor should be willing to give you regular updates on how the job is going. This usually comes by way of a dedicated Project Manager. You should have a schedule that outlines tasks with completion milestones. Also, advances in technology make it much easier to monitor project status, schedules, and budgets.

  1. Do their references check out, and how have previous jobs gone?

A great way to find a trustworthy contractor is to ask friends and family if they could refer you to someone. Alternatively, if you are interviewing contractors ask them to give you access to past clients. A contractor with nothing to hide will easily give up multiple references.

  1. Will everything be in writing and will all contracts be ready before the job starts?

If the answer to this question isn’t a resounding ‘Yes!’, run as fast as you can. Professional contractors will have everything in writing because it protects them, just as much as the client. There should be a clause about potential change orders, how their workspace will be cleaned up each day and the actual materials that will be used.

  1. Have they been in any legal disputes on previous jobs?

This question should be answered honestly. Disputes do happen despite the homeowner or contractor having the best of intentions. Giving the contractor the opportunity to explain how they handled the dispute gives you a chance to measure their problem solving and customer service skills.

  1. What steps will be taken to protect my property?

Your contractor should be willing to take measures to make sure your home stays protected. Tools and equipment should be stored away. Tarps should be used to cover furniture. Doors should be locked when the crew leaves each day.  A clear and defined action plan should be discussed at length prior to construction.

  1. Do you offer a warranty?

A professional contractor should provide you with a warranty that states what is covered and for how long. Additionally, materials used may come with a manufacturer’s warranty. You should get all of this in writing before signing a contract. This is the smartest way to make sure you get everything you want from a contractor.