Hiring a contractor is a major commitment that can make or break a big remodel, and you can be sure you’ll be seeing a lot of them in the next few weeks or months. So how do you know if you’ve found the best person for the job? Here are a few basic questions you should always ask before you hire a contractor:
What’s your reputation and business history?
It’s essential to know a contractor’s work history and reputation in the industry before you consider making a hire. First, verify that the contractor is licensed and insured in your area—refer to this list to verify the rules for contractors in your state. Check their ratings with the Better Business Bureau and sites like Angie’s List, and ask if they are members of any professional associations. Ask for a list of references with phone numbers and addresses, especially those who have had projects similar to yours. Be sure to follow up with each of them.
1. Can you provide an itemized bid?
A simple bottom-line price might be initially easier to digest, but a detailed, itemized bid can clue you in on exactly what your contractor will charge for each aspect of the project. That way, if you decide to make a change (switching out that eye-catching designer tile for something more basic, for example), you’ll know exactly how much the price will rise or fall. An itemized bid will also make it easier to compare prices between contractors. Be sure to confirm whether the bid is a fixed price or merely a quote.
2. Who will perform the work?
Most contractors will not actually do the manual labor of the project themselves, so it’s important to become familiar with the work force as well as with the contractor himself. Does the contractor intend to employ a job foreman or subcontractors? How much time does he intend to spend on-site each week? Will his role be supervisory, or more hands-on? Who will supervise the work when he’s gone?
3. What’s your work process?
Don’t wait until you’re knee-deep in sawdust in your own kitchen before asking about your contractor’s work process and routine. What time will he and the team begin work each day? Will they wear booties when they enter your home? Will they clean up after themselves? Ask you contractor what you can expect from a typical day of work. Also, don’t hesitate to give the contractor a schedule you’d like them to follow or to request regular progress reports.
4. Finally, be sure put all the details of your project in writing, have the contractor sign an agreed-upon contract and confirm how much money you’ll have to put down up front. Now get that remodel rolling!