10 Smart Questions to Ask Contractors Before You Decide to Hire Them
Monday, February 3, 2020

Building a home, renovating, or remodeling can be such an exciting experience that you almost feel giddy about getting started and achieving your goal.

Hiring a contractor for your job is one of the most important aspects of a project, and it highly determines whether your dream turns into reality or a major headache.

To help you make a sound decision, we present to you ten brilliant questions to ask contractors.

1. What’s Your Background and Experience With This Type of Work?

Having a contractor who’s experienced in the kind of project you have at hand is extremely important. It’s particularly important to dig deeper into the history of their business. Here is a list of questions to ask contractors in this regard.

Whether you’re building a house, renovating your kitchen, or remodeling your bathroom, ask for proof of license and insurance. Different states have different requirements for licenses, and you need to ensure the contractor has acquired certificates specific to their field of expertise. A business license is not enough in this case.

Contractors must also have liability insurance, property damage, and worker’s compensation insurance. Ask to see the certificates in-person to ensure they’re insured for the job you’re hiring them for. Besides, the risks involved should accidents happen are reason enough to want to see proof of insurance.

Beyond that, inquire how long the business has been in operation, whether they have operated under a different name before, whether they had declared bankruptcy, how their business is structured, and where it’s physically located. It’ll also help if you can get a list of references with similar projects so you can inquire about their experiences with the contractor and their overall satisfaction with the results.

Lazy jobs mean more money down the drain for you in the future. Here is an example of a water damage job we solved for a client due to a lazy shingle repair done by a prior contractor. 

2. Who Will Be at the Site?

Even before the project begins, it’s important for you to know how the contractor plans to handle subcontractors and site supervision. Everyone on-site should be fully insured, as well. Find out if the contractor has their own work crew or if subcontractors will handle the project.

Further key questions for contractors include how much time they intend to spend on your project and how many other projects they’re handling in tandem with yours. Will they handle any of the labor, or will they simply supervise?

How often will they be on-site? Who’ll supervise in their absence? Ensure they have a trustworthy and accountable person when not around.

3. Will You Give Me a Timeline?

It’s crucial to know whether a contractor can give you both a starting and completion date. It’s advisable to have the dates included in the written agreement, together with the work time table and all the materials. One of the most important questions to ask a contractor is who your contact will be throughout the project.

Who will you talk to in case you have questions or concerns? Inquire about how they schedule site visits and how they intend to keep you up to date with the progress. Proper documentation and communication are two things you should never overlook.

4. Can You Give Me Guarantees?

This is one of the smartest questions to ask contractors. To start with, you should be able to get lien releases for all contractors to avoid getting sued in case the contractor fails to pay them. Warranties are the next best thing.

The contractor should be able to guarantee that they will obtain all the necessary approvals and building permits that will keep you away from legal problems. You haven’t known trouble until you’ve worked with a contractor who chooses to sweep such matters under the rug.

5. What’s Your Bottom Line?

Examine the bottom lines you get from all the potential contractors and pay attention to those that go too high or too low. Even though you may be on a budget, going with a low price may result in a hasty and shoddy job.

Try to negotiate the payment schedule and ask how they intend to deal with surprise expenses or order changes. Never pay your contractor the full amount in advance. Sign the last check only when you are completely satisfied with the results of the project.

6. What Will Be the Work Routine Like?

Hiring a contractor means having people in your home for the next several weeks, or longer depending on your project. Ask what time you should expect them to start working, whether they’ll be on-site till the end, or if they have other projects at the same time.

Will they need to remove items from the work area? Will they need your presence? If you have your own schedule, make it known, and ask for regular reports.

7. Can We Put Everything In Writing?

We cannot emphasize the importance of having everything in a written contract. Have all the details of the project and everything you agree on written in the contract in detail. Include dates, permits, project duration, and expected results.

Include a clause for any potential changes and a broom clause to ensure they clean up after the project. If you can include a liability release to show where your budget is being allocated, even better. Inquire about the down payment and who you’ll be paying exactly.

8. Who Gets the Payment?

It’s always advisable to pay the business and not the individual. It offers some kind of security, peace of mind and assurance that you are on record.

Beyond that, you should never agree to pay cash because it’s hard to track.

9. How Do We Settle Disputes?

It’s unfortunate, but disputes among homeowners and contractors are a common occurrence. It can easily turn into a nightmare, so coming up with a dispute resolution plan is an excellent idea. Include the details in your contract from all the terms and conditions of the materials to project delays and service warranties.

10. Will You Take Steps to Protect My Property?

This is by far one of the toughest questions to ask a building contractor.

Will they wear shoe coverings while entering your home? Will they cover furnishings and surfaces? Will they close doors when necessary to protect the house? What is the expected noise level?

Questions to Ask Contractors: The Takeaways

These are some of the most important questions to ask contractors. Double-check permits with your city because should anything go wrong. You’ll need them to make an insurance claim.

Now that you know everything, we are ready to be the professional contractors you need for your project. Please reach out to us and we’ll be more than glad to serve you.