8 Questions to Ask Potential Contractors

It can be daunting to find a remodeling firm, so we’ve put together a list of good questions you should ask when you meet with a contractor.

How long have you been in the industry/been in business?

Experience is everything in remodeling, so an established history within your community will speak volumes about a contractor. Today’s marketplace is competitive, and a company that has survived a decade will have good references and history to back up their work.

Will you provide a list of references I can contact?

Any reliable contractor should be able to supply you with a minimum of three references, including names, telephone numbers and addresses. Follow up this question by asking how long ago the project was completed and if the contractor can arrange a visit to see the finished job. They might not always be able to get you into other finished projects, but it’s always worth asking.

Who is on your team?

Ask contractors if they have employees or if they hire subcontractors. If they do hire subs, how long have they been working together? Many first-time remodelers get nervous when subs are mentioned, but good teams don’t need to be on the same payroll. When representatives from different trades have worked together for decades, there’s a natural teamwork and cohesion.

What should I expect during the remodeling process?

This is a good way to gauge how good the contractor is at communicating and how well they deliver on timelines and budgets. It will also help you to manage your expectations for your project. This answer should be clear and easy to understand. If they waffle on the explanation, they’ll waffle on your project.

Does your company carry worker’s compensation and liability insurance?

Ask for copies of the insurance certificates to verify coverage. Once products and supplies are delivered to your home, they fall under your insurance. But people coming in to work should be covered by their own insurance. If something goes wrong, you’ll be grateful you did your due diligence.

Are any of your company’s employees licensed and certified?

Some states require licensing and registration to build within their borders. If your state has construction licensing laws, ask for your contractor’s registration and license, then confirm the license number and expiration date with your local jurisdiction. Trade certifications are also good indicators of continuing education and dedication to the industry.  Check the business card – if their name is followed by CRM, CRPM, CKBR or anything similar, rest assured they are dedicated to staying educated. For a full list of certifications, check out the NARI website.

How many projects like mine have you completed in the past 12 months?

This will help you determine the contractor’s familiarity with your project. You should confirm that a good portion of those completed projects are similar to your renovation.

Will we need a permit for this project?

Most jobs will require some kind of permit. Failure to obtain the necessary permits or schedule inspections can be illegal. In some cases, if a project violates a zoning law or some other regulations, it may even have to be demolished if there is no way to comply with the law. A qualified remodeling contractor will be conscious of the permit process, and ensure that all permits have been obtained before initiating any work.

Of the many questions you can ask during an interview, the most important question is one you must ask yourself: “Do I trust and feel comfortable with the person I am about to hire?”

Your answer to that question should make the hiring decision a lot easier.

Tags: Renovations / Contractors