Before you ask these questions, research the company and find out if they have a website. If so, visit the site and read the testimonials. If you still want to talk with them, contact them and ask them some the following questions that you feel are the most important for you and your project.
1. Do they do the kind of work you are looking to have done?
2. Do they provide design services or just construction?
3. Do they handle all variance issues, permits and licenses?
4. How long have they been in business? They should have a minimum of 5 years.
5. Are they licensed and are they fully insured? In Massachusetts the following is required:
Home Improvement Contractor License
Construction Supervisors license
If home is built prior to 1978 company must be RRP certified and have at least 1 certified renovator on staff
Both Liability and workers comp is required regardless of how many employees, even if it is “0”
6. How long has the owner been in the industry and in what capacities?
Look for “management” skills and expertise, NOT carpentry skills. When Owners are the main carpenter, management experience and are skills typically lagging. “Management” is what makes successful remodeling experiences for homeowners.
7. Can you see photos of their work or can they arrange a tour of a completed project or two?
8. Can they describe the process they use for a smooth successful project?
9. How will communications be handled at each stage of the project?
10. Do they have recent references?
11. Do they have references from homeowners for whom they worked 5–10 years ago as well as in the last two years?
12. To which professional organizations do they belong? Possible organizations are:
National Association of the Remodeling Industry, NARI
National Kitchen and Bath Association, NKBA
American Institute of Architects, AIA
The US Green Building Council, SSGBC
Building Performance Institute, BPI
American Society of Interior Designers, ASID
(Membership shows a commitment to professionalism and doing business with more integrity then the average remodeling company.)
13. What types of training and certifications does their staff have?
All of the above associations have certifications which require education, testing and continuing education after certification. Having certifications exhibits a commitment to professionalism, education and providing a higher level of service to clients than the minimum required.
14. In what specific ways do they stand behind their work? How long is their warranty?
15. What is the experience of the project manager and other tradespersons who will work on your project?
16. What percentage of the project manager’s time will be devoted to your project?
17. Will they use subcontractors and, if so, how long have they used these specific subcontractors?
18. Are their subs licensed and fully insured? No matter what insurances the contractor has each trade contractor should have their own for you to be fully and properly protected from liability.
19. Do they build to meet code or do they build to exceed code and, if so, in what ways?
20. Do they have a philosophy about their work?
21. What steps do they take to keep your home and belongings safe and clean during construction?
22. How do they handle pets?
23. Will they provide you with a detailed schedule of the project?
24. How far off of their projected schedules is a typical project?
25. How far off of budget do they get on average?
26. How are change orders and their costs handled?
27. Do they use “allowances”? How are they handled?
28. What level are their “allowances” for things like tile, lights, etc. (low, medium, high, premium, super premium quality)?
29. What are they looking for in a client?
30. What will they expect from you at each stage of the process?
31. How do they avoid disputes and how do they handle disputes should they arise?