Choosing a remodeling contractor to hire is a big decision. After all, not only are you letting this person and their crew in your home, but you’ll also likely be giving them a lot of money. With that in mind, it’s best to do a little bit of research first so that you can make sure you’re picking the right person for the job. To that end, I’ve laid out five questions that you should ask before hiring a remodeling contractor. Read them over so that you ace the interview.
Can I see some past projects and references?
Any remodeling contractor worth their salt will have examples of their past work on hand. If you’re having exterior work done, ask to be given addresses so that you can drive by the homes and assess the contractor’s quality of work with your own eyes. However, if your project is indoors – like a kitchen or bathroom, for example – you may have to settle for pictures.
You should also see if the contractor can provide references. For some people, just the fact that a contractor is able to produce them is enough. However, others need to take the extra step and call. If you do call, ask the former client what they liked and didn’t like about working with the contractor, as well as how happy they are with their end product.
Are you licensed and insured?
The answer to these questions should always be a resounding yes. As the homeowner, you’re perfectly within your rights to ask for copies of any contractor’s license and insurance policies. If a contractor can’t provide them, that’s proof that you’re likely not doing business with a true professional so much as someone who does remodeling jobs on the side.
Remember, these documents ultimately protect you. On the one hand, someone who is licensed has proven to the state that they have a decent foundation of knowledge and skills. Additionally, by law, any contractor that is licensed must carry a current insurance policy. In the event that someone is injured on your job, your assets won’t be put at risk.
What’s your estimate and estimated timeframe this project?
Essentially, you’ll want to get a broad picture of how the project will go if you choose to work with this contractor. While they don’t have to give you a daily schedule, they should be able to give you a ballpark idea of how long they think that your project will take. Similarly, while they don’t have to provide a budget down to the penny, a good contractor should be able to give you a fairly solid idea of what your out-of-pocket costs will be.
That said, the more detail you in these documents, the better. Asking for an itemized estimate will help you get a more thorough picture of what your money will be going toward. That way, if you have any questions about how the money is being spent, you can point to specifics.
Who will be coming to my home every day and how do I contact them?
Like it or not, the person who comes to your home to deliver your estimate will not always be the one who will ultimately be overseeing the work on your home. Sometimes it will be another employee like a lead carpenter or project manager. However, regardless of who it ends up being, you should be given a definitive point of contact, someone you can go to with questions and concerns. You’ll also want to learn how to get in contact with them if need be.
What’s the process if a change needs to be made?
Unfortunately, even the most thoroughly thought out remodeling projects don’t always go according to plan. The construction team could stumble upon an unforeseen structural problem that needs to be addressed, products could be out of stock, or deliveries could go awry. If any of those things happen, changes need to be made to the construction, which could also affect the schedule and budget.
Ideally, you’ll want these changes to be run by you first and documented in a change order. A change order is a written extension to the original contract where the change to the scope of work and price is detailed. This document should also be signed off on by both you and the contractor.