You’ve been saving up your money and getting ready for a remodeling project on your home. But, before you can get started on creating your new dream home, you’ll need to find a reputable contractor. Easier said than done. There are many contractors out there to choose from, but plenty of them are not as reputable as they claim to be.
So, how do you differentiate qualified and quality contractors from those that are lackluster in their services? Here are 7 questions to ask contractors before you sign a contract that will separate contenders from pretenders.
7 Questions to Ask Contractors
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN IN BUSINESS?
Knowing how long a contractor has been in business and how many projects they’ve completed is an important step in figuring out whether they are up to the task. The contractor you go with should have roughly five to ten years of experience under their belt. Beyond that, it’s great if the team that they bring has a combined 20+ years of experience.
Ten years in business will give you a number of previous clients and customers that you can contact as references. The company should have been able to build up a significant number of reviews that you can look over. Additionally, if they have a combined twenty years of experience, you can expect professionalism and an excellent finished project.
Be wary of contractors that have been in business for less than five years and those that don’t have a significant amount of experience. That’s not to say that contractors that fit that description are unprofessional or won’t do a good job. By choosing a more experienced team, you can be much more sure of the project going smoothly.
DO YOU HAVE A CONTRACTING LICENSE + INSURANCE?
Not all general contractors will be licensed through the state. It’s essential that you ask a contractor to provide their contracting license and their proof of insurance. A contractor with a license tells you two things. First, it shows that the contractor is taking their business seriously and wants to do everything by the book. Second, it ensures that if for whatever reason, the contractor doesn’t finish what they started, the state will be able to track them down and help you out. Think of a license as a sort of security and insurance for yourself.
In addition, general liability insurance and workers’ compensation for the contractor are a must. Every employee or person working on your property for the contractor needs to be insured. If your general contractor isn’t insured, and an accident happened on your property, the homeowner would be responsible. Remember, it’s important your contractor must carry workers compensation insurance
WILL YOU OBTAIN THE PERMITS AND SET UP THE INSPECTION?
Not every renovation or remodel will need to have building permits. If your project doesn’t need a permit, then you shouldn’t have to worry about this part. But, if you do need a permit, you’ll want to determine who is responsible for getting that permit and setting up the inspection. Ideally, your contractor will be responsible for this. Both of these things aren’t something that you, as the homeowner, need to be responsible for.
Most contractors will know how many building permits are needed as well as the local building code requirements. If your contractor doesn’t want to get a permit or be present to inspect the project after it’s completed, that is a major red flag.
WHAT IS THE PROJECTED TIMELINE OF THE PROJECT?
This answer doesn’t need to be firm or set in stone at all. Some remodeling projects are complicated to predict. What you’re looking for is a contractor that has a plan. A home improvement project might take 3 – 6 months. 3 – 6 months is far from an exact measure of time, but it is still a reasonable estimate.
If your contractor cannot give you a somewhat specific timeline for your home remodeling project completion date you’ll want to be wary. Some contractors tend to drag projects out far past the amount of time that they should. This will end up costing you significantly more money and frustration.
HOW OFTEN WILL YOU STOP BY TO CHECK ON THE PROGRESS?
Hiring a contractor that doesn’t take the time to stop by your project after it’s started can be incredibly frustrating. Your contractor should also act as the on-site project manager and, in turn, should be present daily unless otherwise noted. Developing a relationship with both the project manager and the contractor (if they are separate people) will help keep your home improvement process running smoothly.
DO YOU OFFER A GUARANTEE ON YOUR WORK?
The right contractor will offer a written contract and guarantee on their work. A guarantee should be thought of like a warranty, and you’ll want to make sure you have one for the work that your contractor does. This ensures that the company stands by their work, wants to see the best for your home, and will be around for years after it is finished.
Of all the questions to ask a general contractor, this is one of the most critical because it illustrates that the company is reputable. Hiring a contractor that doesn’t guarantee their work is like hiring someone that isn’t proud of the finished product that they produce.
DO YOU WRITE A CONTRACT SPECIFIC TO OUR TIME FRAME, JOB DESCRIPTION, AND COST?
If you aren’t sure of what’s included in the contract, what’s the point in even signing one? A good contract with your general contractor should consist of a rough estimate of how much time the project will take, what the finished product will look like, and the payment schedule. With a robust contract that includes all of these specifics, you’ll be able to ensure you get the finished product that you’re expecting without paying more than the agreed-on amount.
It’s good to remember that construction projects can change. If, for example, your contractor finds water damage behind your sink from a leaky pipe or a bad drain fitting, then you’ll have to get that fixed. A problem like that could cost up to $1,000. But, if these are things that the contractor can’t be responsible for. After all, the water damage would have been there either way.
If you’re looking for a home remodeling contractor, we’d love to hear from you. Thomas Buckborugh & Associates is a high-end and unique home remodeling and design contractor. Our goal is that you love every part of your home from the minute that the project is finished.