There are many important steps when it comes to home renovation. Finding the right contractor to guide you through this field of uncertainty is at the top of the list. You contractor isn’t just the person drawing your ideas down onto paper and then bringing them to real life, they are your first defense when it comes to navigating questions of the best materials to use, where to cut costs, and how to handle surprise problems. You’ll inevitably endure an interview process to find the right one. Just like with any interview, you need to have the right questions to ask to get an idea of what to expect. Here are our top ten questions to take with you on contractor interviews.
What’s Your Experience?
So all those job interviews you’ve been on since you got your first part-time job at the ice cream shop were really just preparation for this moment. With the tables turned, you want to hear about their skills and experience from them. Online forums are a great place to start, in the weeding out portion, but you want to know how they qualify themselves in person. It’s one thing to read it on a page, it’s quite another to be presented with this info face to face.
Do You Have A License?
Contractor licensing isn’t the same in all states. It isn’t even the same within one state from county and city to town. Some are more stringent than others, some don’t require it at all. A licensed contractor gives you more assurance that they know and comply with regulations and codes, and they work above the bar and have accountability.
Again, not all contractors are required to have insurance. But insurance is another step in accountability. It also isn’t enough to ask if they have it, you want to know what type they have. At the minimum, worker’s comp and liability should be on your checklist. Do your research, too, beforehand to be current on what is required, what’s extra, etc. Then, don’t just ask if they have it, request to see a copy of it.
Who’s Going To Be Working?
Some contractors have a set team of employees that they work with. Some contractors hire out to other contractors, or sub-contractors. Ask who they work with and how they vet them.
What’s The Timeline?
Obviously, you want to know how long your life is going to be affected by this project. If you have to lease an off-site storage unit, even more reason to need an expectation. There might be some hiccups along the way, but if for nothing else than your personal sanity, knowing what you’re getting into before it arrives will help. You’ll also want to ask if there will be time where you don’t have access to/use of a room, especially kitchen and bathrooms.
What Permits Are Needed And Will You Handle Them?
It’s customary for a contractor to be more up to speed on necessary permits and inspections. While not every project will need them, never claim ignorance. The fines and halt in labor is not worth it. It’s also common for contractors to handle the red tape, but being on the same page with this info never hurt anyone.
How Does Payment Work?
For your protection, never pay for a full job upfront. Reputable contractors don’t require it, either. But they may have their own pay structure set up for you. Discuss and be absolutely clear on this front.
Who Is The Foreman/Point Person And What Are Their Duties?
Your contractor will most likely have a supervisor who is there every day, overseeing general operations or specific duties. When it comes to the communication game, knowing who you need to talk to and with what issues saves everyone time.
What’s A Typical Work Schedule?
Do they work weekends? Do they start at 8 and go home at 4? What can you expect when it comes time to opening your home for this business? If it varies due to weather, daylight, etc. be sure you set up a clear line of communication so you’re never caught off guard.
How Does Clean Up Work?
A nitty, gritty detail that will make or break your sanity. Some people are perfectly fine living in chaos and mess, others don’t do well with it. If you have a standard, communicate that to your contractor. A thorough sweep of the driveway and street for nails, and debris around the yard at the end of every day is important, moreso if you have children or pets. It’s gonna get messy, but it doesn’t need to devolve into absolute filth.
Have you thought of more questions to ask your future contractors? There’s no question too small or insignificant. At the end of this process, you should have a feeling of trust and confidence in whoever you pick.