Hiring a professional contractor can be a stressful undertaking. It’s hard to find someone you can trust. We’ve all heard a million horror stories about contractors doing a terrible job, massive cost overruns, and contractors disappearing with a client’s money.
Believe it or not, finding and hiring a great contractor doesn’t have to be a nightmare. There are plenty of reputable companies out there who provide quality work at a reasonable price, and who dutifully complete the jobs they are hired for.
One way for you to have peace of mind is to know the right questions to ask a contractor before hiring them.
If you’re ready to hire a professional for the job, make sure you remember these 10 vital questions to ask a contractor. Continue reading to learn more from our helpful guide.
Among the most important things to learn about them is their business history. A contracting business that has been in operation for a number of years, or even decades, is more likely to be dependable.
They will also have a wide range of experience with a multitude of different kinds of projects and be able to offer you the phone numbers or references of satisfied customers.
Any legitimate contracting business will be licensed to operate in the city or state in which they are located. Make certain that the person is actually certified for the particular kind of work you are hiring them for. An example would be a carpenter who isn’t licensed as a roofer. Each state has specific requirements that must be met in order to become certified there.
Most successful contractors have multiple projects going at the same time, so you need to be sure that your job won’t be put on the back burner. Find out if a project manager will be assigned to your home, and whether any of the work will be done by subcontractors. These variables can have a huge impact on how quickly the work gets done.
The more organized the work environment, the more efficiently the work will flow. Ask to meet the project manager before work begins. Have them walk you through what their typical day looks like and the number of workers that you can expect to have onsite at any given time.
It’s a good idea to find out what you can expect to be accomplished each day. Are there specific start and stop times? Should you expect a certain noise level? Will they need you to be at home at all during the workday?
Another thing to consider is courtesy to your neighbors. You’ll need to discuss the parking situation, noise, power outlets, and restroom use. We recommend mentioning to the neighbors nearest to you the work that will be happening, the timeframe it’s likely to cover, and apologize ahead of time for the noise or any other inconveniences they are likely to experience.
The more upfront you are, the most understanding and flexible even the grumpiest of neighbors are likely to be.
Once you’ve agreed on a price for the job, there is the risk of cost overruns due to unforeseen complications and changes to plans as construction progresses. Make it a point to discuss this ahead of time to find out the company’s policy for handling additional charges, and get it in writing.
There is always the possibility that the homeowner and contractor will have a dispute, whether regarding the quality of the work, not meeting the completion deadline, or some other matter. We suggest bringing this up before you sign the contract for the job. The more open and honest the company is about dealing with past disputes, the more peace of mind you’ll have as they begin work.
Once the contractor has given you a bid, they should be able to provide a timeline for each step of the project, and offer an expected completion date. A number of factors can impact this, such as any outstanding subcontracting bids, weather conditions, other projects currently underway, and changes to your construction plans.
The contractor needs to provide you with a designated point of contact. Ask if they prefer contact through email, text, or on the phone. Get this information, and ask the timeframe that you can typically expect to hear back.
A good contractor will likely be busy with several projects at one, so be prepared to be patient, but it’s reasonable to expect a call back on the same day. Be wary of anyone who blows you off completely or tends to make you wait days at a time before offering any kind of response.
Any reputable contractor should have both liability insurance and workers’ compensation. Simply asking a contracting company if they are insured isn’t enough information, you need to know how they are insured. Ask to see their certificate of insurance and read it closely.
Any homeowner looking to hire a contractor should be strongly advised to never pay in full upfront. And a reputable contractor would never ask you to do so. When paying up front you run the strong risk of them disappearing, or long delays in completion of your job.
The more you know before starting the hiring process, the more knowledgeable you’ll be about what questions to ask a contractor. In case you haven’t experienced this first-hand, there are plenty of bad apples out there.
So it’s vital that you know what to ask a contractor before signing on the dotted line or writing a check.
Contact us for information on how we can provide planning and design solutions for your project.