When it comes to selecting a contractor to do any type of work on your home, you want them to have what it takes to do the job right.
First, ask around. Word-of-mouth referrals are a great way to narrow down your list of contractor candidates. Once you’ve created your short list, here are some important questions to be sure you ask each of the contenders:
1) How long have you been in business?
A newer business isn’t necessarily a red flag, but multiple years in the industry indicate that the contractor not only has experience but they have the customer service and project management skills needed to remain in business for the long-haul.
2) Are you licensed and insured in this state (if required)?
Not every state requires licensing—for example, commercial and residential contractors in California must be licensed, but in New York, a state license is required only for asbestos abatement)—but you’ll want to see proof that the contractor has liability insurance to cover them if something goes wrong or if a worker is injured on your property.
3) How many other projects are you currently working on?
You want the contractor to be busy, but not TOO busy. Having multiple ongoing projects suggests that they are in demand, which is a good sign for the quality of the work they do. But if a contractor is overbooked, it is likely that your project will get put on the backburner and take longer than anticipated.
4) What is the total cost?
Don’t assume the cheapest estimate is the best. Here, you’re looking for an itemized cost estimate including labor and materials. This is a great way to do an apples-to-apples comparison between two bids.
5) When will the project be complete?
This is a clutch question. Home renovation projects are inherently inconvenient, so you want the project done as expeditiously as possible so you aren’t languishing sans kitchen or bath for an extended period of time. Be sure an end date is stated in the contact you sign, including whatever time is necessary to obtain the proper building permits and, if applicable, homeowners’ association approval.
6) May I talk with some recent clients?
A solid recommendation from people who have used this contractor is a great way to know if they will be a good fit for your project. Ask the contractor for referrals directly, and look for recommendations from neighbors on the contractor’s Nextdoor business page to get insights into the caliber of their work.
Your home is likely your biggest investment, so you want to be sure it’s in good hands when undertaking any type of renovation! What questions have you asked on previous projects to ensure you chose the right contractor?