10 questions to ask when hiring a contractor

Asking the right questions up front could save you time and money with your remodeling project.

Tags: Home, Planning, Home equity
Published: December 20, 2021

Updating or remodeling a home could be an effective way to add value to a property while customizing it to suit your personal preferences and tastes. A loan specialist can help you finance the project, but it’s your responsibility to hire a contractor to do the work. Ask friends and family for recommendations or look into community forum sites like Nextdoor, and lead generating sites like Angi or HomeAdvisor which allow members to search for reliable vendors.

When interviewing candidates, use the following ten questions as your guide.


1. How much experience do you have with home-improvement?

Hire a contractor with experience in the type of project you want to complete. For example, if you’re planning to remodel a kitchen, someone who has remodeled a lot of kitchens can help you with design details and will know what permits may be required.


2. Do you specialize in a certain type of work?

There are many facets to home repair, and very few individuals have expertise in all of them. Consider hiring a specialist who is skilled in the type of home repair you are seeking.


3. Do you have a current license?

Licenses are subject to state rules and regulations, and this helps ensure that the contractor has been trained and meets the educational requirements for licensing.


4. Do you have insurance? 

Ask specific questions regarding the contractor’s insurance coverage, and make sure the policy is current. The policy should cover both personal and property damage for the contractor and any subcontractors who will be on your property. 


5. Do you work alone or with a team?

Large projects may require different skill sets. During the interview, ask how the work will be divided. Find out if and how the services of other professionals will be used. Inquire about the team’s qualifications and the possibility of additional costs for their services.


6. Can you provide professional references?

Ask for references and verify them. If the projects are similar to the one you are proposing, consider asking the referred homeowner if you can view the quality of the work they had done. 


7. Do you have a formal business entity established?

A lot of independent contractors work as a sole proprietors. But a legal business entity, like an LLC, indicates a level of professionalism and accountability that may not otherwise exist.


8. Is your company certified by the Environmental Protection Agency? 

The EPA must certify contractors involved in renovating homes built prior to 1978. The house paint used before 1978 frequently contained lead, and these paint chips and dust may pose health risks when disturbed during renovations. 


9. How long do you estimate the project will take?

Always ask for a project completion date. Complicated projects may be divided into phases with multiple completion dates. When discussing the project timeline, consider the amount and quality of work you expect for your project, as these factors could result in an extended timeline. 


10. What is the cost of the project?

The cost of any renovation is an important factor. Ask about down payment requirements and any periodic payments. Don’t decide to hire someone based solely on the price. Talk to multiple candidates and evaluate everything each one has to offer.

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