When you decide to remodel your home, the first thing you will do is find a reliable and experienced contractor. Start by asking family and friends for recommendations who have done work on their home and then contact their best options. Once you’ve narrowed it down to 2 or 3, begin interviewing them by asking them these questions:
When can you start? Some contractors have months-long wait times and depending on when you need the work done, you may have to mark some of them off the list based on their availability.
Who have you worked with before? Ask the contractor for references so you can talk to other homeowners who have used him or her. Ask any homeowner references what they liked and didn’t like about their contractor and the renovation process. Also ask them if they’d be willing to let you see the work.
What licenses and insurance do you carry? Your contractor should carry any applicable licenses and as well as insurance. From there you can find out what, if any, permits you or the contractor may need to pull from your local codes department.
How much will it cost? Request quotes from various contractors when you first talk to them. When you’re comparing quotes, be sure you’re comparing “apples to apples” and be leery of any quotes that fall too far below the others.
How and when will I pay you? Ask how payments will work and how he or she will want to be paid. Avoid anyone who only wants to be paid in cash or wants to avoid a paper trail. Find out how much, if any, is due up front and who will pay any subcontractors. You’ll also want to make sure everything is in writing.
How do you best communicate? Ask the contractor how he or she prefers to communicate – via email, phone, text message or in person – and how often he or she will initiate more formal update meetings.
Are there any ways for us to save money? If you’re interested in saving money on your project, ask the contractor if there’s anything you can do to cut costs. For example, your contractor may be able to shave off some costs if you purchase your own materials or do some of your own labor.
How do you prefer to make final decisions? Ask if your contractor will want you to make a final decision on everything or if he or she wants the ability to make decisions when you aren’t immediately available.
What frustrates you most about homeowners? Ask the contractor about their past personal frustrations with homeowners. If they list any of your frequent tendencies, he or she might not be the best contractor for you!
Asking these questions should give you a thorough picture of their work and expectations upfront so that you won’t be surprised during your remodel.