Choosing a contractor for your remodeling project can be a long and difficult task. There are many homeowners who have fears about committing to a contractor as they are worried that something may go wrong with the project. One of the best ways to ensure that you hire the right contractor for your remodeling project is by asking each of the chosen contractors the right questions when you interview them. You can interview contractors over the phone or in person, depending on if they offer free estimates on sight or not.
Here are some very important questions that you need to ask a contractor before you hire them.
1. Are you a licensed contractor in your state/city?
Before you even talk to any contractors, check with your state and city to see if you a contractor needs to be licensed for the project that you are doing to your home. Some states will accept other accredidations besides a license to be able to work in a state. This may include work experience or membership in a professional trade union. If a license is required, be sure to get the contractor's number and call your local building department to validate the number.
2. Can I have 3 references from past customers that you have done similar jobs on?
If you are having your kitchen remodeled, then you want the contractor to give you references for customers that had work done to their kitchen and not their bathroom or basement. Any good contractor will have plenty of references available for you to call.
3. What insurance coverage do you have?
At the bare minimum a contractor should have auto insurance, general liability insurance which includes property and casualty, and workman's compensation. Proper insurance on the part of the contractor help to protect you from any legal responsibility should an accident happen on your property while the contractor and his team are working. You can ask to see a copy of the insurance policy or ask for the insurance agency information to verify coverage. If a contractor does not have insurance and an accident does occur, you could potentially be sued by the contractor and/or their employees.
4. How long have you been in business?
Some contractors are fly-by-night companies and will set up shop and then close a year later. These companies may even scam people out of money by never finishing the work and then closing their businesses and opening up a new one. Protect your investment and go with a contractor that has been in business for at least 3-5 years under the same company name. Read the contract very carefully if you are dealing with a young company and make sure they have references.
5. May I have an itemized estimate for the said project?
Ask for an itemized estimate that includes materials, labor, any fees or licenses as well as a time frame. The estimate should be in writing so that you can compare it to another contractor's estimate. Some contractors will do this for free while others may charge a small fee.
These questions are a great starting ground for an interview with a contractor. You may have other questions and concerns that you may want to add to the list depending on your situation and what exactly your remodeling project entails.