10 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Contractor

10 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Contractor

May 23rd, 2023

Hiring a contractor can be an overwhelming task, but it's an important decision that can affect the entire outcome of your renovation. A good remodeling company can make your dream project come to life, while a bad one can leave you with costly mistakes, delays, and endless headaches—selecting the right contractor is crucial. To make the most informed decision, you must ask the right questions. This allows you to assess the contractor’s experience, professionalism, and expertise while helping you avoid potential misunderstandings and better protect your investment. Additionally, you can weed out the companies that aren’t on the same page as you or that don’t understand your vision. We’ve compiled a list of ten questions to ask that will arm you with the knowledge necessary to select the right contractor to ensure a successful renovation confidently.

1. Is the company licensed and insured?

The first and most crucial question you should ask a contractor is whether they are licensed and insured. In addition to the legal protection that comes with working with a licensed contractor, hiring an insured remodeling company provides extra financial security. With the right policy in place, you can have peace of mind knowing that the company will cover any unexpected costs resulting from accidents or damages. Licensed contractors make all the difference when tackling projects. They are knowledgeable and up-to-date on local building codes and regulations, guaranteeing your project will abide by industry standards. Their commitment to professional work is further demonstrated through their investments in protecting against disasters or unanticipated problems down the line—an invaluable resource for any job done right!

2. What experience do you have?

Experience is an essential factor when selecting a contractor. Hiring an experienced company can mean the difference between a successful project and one that doesn’t align with your expectations. Therefore, it’s important to ask about their experience in the industry and whether they have completed similar jobs. By asking how long they’ve been a licensed company, you can gauge their level of competence. A contractor who has been in business for several years will likely have a track record of successful projects and satisfied clients. Additionally, you should ask whether they have completed renovations comparable to yours. This will give you a sense of their familiarity with the type of work you require and if they are equipped to handle the specific needs of your remodel. You may also request references and photos of their previous work to visualize their quality and craftsmanship.

3. What is your timeline?

If you’re planning a remodel, chances are you have a timeline in mind—when you’d like the project to begin and end. A professional contractor will let you know if it’s realistic or provide you with an alternate timeline more conducive to your renovation. A reputable company will work with you to plan a schedule that works for you, as they know that any remodel is a huge commitment. But, more importantly, they will stick to that agenda and communicate with you if any delays occur.

4. What is the cost estimate?

Similar to a timeline, if you’re embarking on a renovation, you probably have a budget in mind. Although a detailed and itemized estimate wouldn’t be finalized until you’ve selected a contractor—you can always ask for a rough estimate for your project. Again, a knowledgeable company would most likely be able to ballpark a figure for you to plan around. This question is essential to ask all companies you “interview” for your job. This way, you get a feel for which estimates are on the high or low end of the spectrum and which estimates fall somewhere more average. By gauging the pricing from various contractors, you can determine which price is practical for you.

5. What is your communication style?

Effective communication is key to the success of any project, and it’s imperative when working on a renovation. Without clear and open communication, misunderstandings can happen, leading to delays, mistakes, and other potential problems that can impact the project's outcome. It’s essential to ask about the company’s communication process and how they plan to keep you informed throughout the remodel–including how frequently they provide informative updates. Ideally, the contractor should contact you with regular progress reports so that you can track progress and identify potential issues early on. You should know how to reach the company with any questions or concerns. For example, will they be available by phone or email? What is the typical response time? Do they answer after working hours? This information will help you set reasonable expectations for communication.

6. Who will be working on the project?

To manage multiple jobs simultaneously, contractors will typically hire teams of subcontractors. You should ask about qualifications, licenses, and insurance coverages to ensure you have the right team. In addition, you can ask for references and information about the subcontractor’s prior experience with similar projects. This helps you to assess their skills and determine whether they are a good fit.

7. Will you take steps to protect my property?

A crew will be in and out of your home during a renovation. You want your property, including furniture, electronics, and personal effects, protected during the remodel. Will the crew be responsible for tarping up your belongings to ensure there won’t be damage? Will they be responsible for cleaning up when work is complete at the end of the day? Again, clarifying these details at the beginning of the job can lead to smoother communications and expectations from both parties.

8. What is your warranty or guarantee?

A reputable and professional contractor will be confident in their work's quality and willing to stand behind it with a warranty or guarantee. The specific terms of the warranty will vary depending on the company and type of work but generally covers defects in materials and workmanship. When inquiring, it’s important to ask about the length of the warranty and any limitations or exclusions that may apply so that you’re aware before the project begins.

9. Do you handle permits and inspections?

When considering a contractor for a remodel, you should ask whether the company will handle permits and inspections. A good contractor will typically take care of this process on behalf of the client, as it is part of their professional responsibility. However, it’s essential to clarify the specifics of the process. Obtaining necessary documentation can be a considerable undertaking, and the procedure can vary depending on the specific jurisdiction and type of renovation. Pick the contractor that can navigate permitting in a timely and cost-effective manner.

10. What is your payment schedule?

Before entering into a contract, you need to understand the type of payment schedule your contractor requires. The payment schedule should include a breakdown of the total cost, including any upfront fees, progress payments, and final payments. It’s important to note that schedules can vary depending on the type of project and the contractor’s policies. For example, some may require a larger down payment, while others offer payment plans or financing options. Whatever is decided, you and the company should feel comfortable and clear about payment terms, as they are critical to a successful project and a positive working relationship. Hiring a contractor is a significant decision that requires research and planning. However, you can confidently choose the right contractor for your project by asking the right questions. Remember to take the time to verify licensure, and insurance, check for references, and review any payment schedules and warranties, as these details will make your remodel a success. With the right contractor, you can turn your vision into a reality and be comfortable knowing they delivered quality craftsmanship to elevate your home.

Key Takeaways:

  • A good remodeling company is imperative to a successful project
  • Research qualified companies that fit your needs
  • Ask all relevant questions before committing to a service provider