What to ask a contractor (For Renovations)
The end result of renovations in your home is always exciting and fun! It affords you the opportunity to make your space your own, exactly how you want it, often bringing new life to a dated property.
Often in the initial stages, you'll begin the process by obtaining quotes, and interviewing prospective contractors who will take on the aspects of your renovation that you are unable to. This list of questions will help you ensure that the project is taken in on a matter that makes sure it's smooth, delivered on time, and won't break your bank.
1. Are my plans achievable and realistic?
Seems pretty basic right? But it's important, not all goals are achievable and practical depending on your situation. A great contractor will analyze and put careful consideration into your plans, and provide feedback on their feasibility, provide alternative solutions, and propose solutions, while a bad contractor will simply say yes and could potentially string you along throughout the process.
2. What is their prior experience
Hiring a contractor with no experience, references, or examples of their work is purely risky business! Evaluating the work that the contractor you're looking to work with is simply the right thing to do, you likely wouldn't hire a REALTOR, Lawyer, or have a Doctor perform work for you if you didn't know they had experience and a good track record. This discovery isn't simply about seeing final products, you'll be able to evaluate whether they were able to stick to their budget, the quality of materials they used, proper permits obtained, and delivery was on schedule.
The best way to performing your own due diligence is quite simple, check out reviews online, whether it's through Houzz, or Google, or other platforms where they've obtained reviews, ask for references of past clients, and of course, photos or videos of their past work.
3. Is Your Budget Realistic?
The biggest make or break in your plans for renovating, the budget! Make sure you're asking your contractor whether the budget you've set out for your desired work is realistic. Always ensure that you're asking the contractor you're interviewing for an estimate of costs, a reputable contractor will have no problem having a direct conversation regarding budgets, potential constraints, and sometimes are able to help bring costs down to manageable levels with professional expertise and solutions.
If you're encountering a contractor who's vague in their responses, cannot commit to budgets or costs, and is generally unreliable in that regards, they may not be the best fir for you.
4. Are you able to present a contract?
Once the details of a project are outlined, costs are agreed upon, and work is ready to begin, it's vital that you get it all in writing, sure you may be used to a good old fashioned handshake, but when it comes to thousands, tens of thousands, or sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars in a renovation, paperwork outlining all aspects of the project is necessary. This includes payment schedules, cost breakdowns, materials that will be used, sub contractors used, and plans for resolutions on disputes among any other nuances within the project.
It's a simple fact, unexpected issues arise in projects like this, knowing how contingencies are addressed, the details of delivery, costs, etc should be spelled out in a legal binding contract to not only protect yourself, but the contractor as well.
5. Can you outline the payment schedule?
A critical question attached to your project, we often have clients believing that the payment is made after the work is done, and that's usually not the case. In our experiences with our trusted renovation partners, it is typical to see an upfront payment which typically hovers around the 5-15% mark, which is then subsequently followed by equal periodic payments throughout the project, ending with the final payment once all of the planned and contracted work has been completed. Take note, a contractor asking for all the money upfront is not common, and you should be weary of handing over all of your money before work is completed.
6. Are you insured, licensed, and able to obtain the proper permits to ensure the job is done correctly?
Ensuring that your contractor has taken the proper steps to properly insure themselves and their work is vital, as a home owner, you do not want to have a contractor come in who's not insured, or one who cannot pull permits, this could lead to damaged property, no recourse for accidents or incomplete work, etc. A proper contractor will be bonded and licensed giving you peace of mind knowing that the work will be permitted, and will be covered by insured losses in the event of a loss.
7. What are your clean up, on site policies, and safety procedures?
Quite often renovations will occur while you're still living at the home, this means you're living in an active construction site. Knowing when messes will be cleaned, how materials will be stored, and how they'll keep your property safe during the duration of the job. Asking your contractor what policies and procedures they have in place will give you peace of mind knowing that your family and property will be overall protected during construction.
Having the right questions ready to go for your contractor is essential to seeing the successful completion of your homes renovation project, take the time to thoroughly interview your contractor, ask these questions, perform your own due diligence, and don't hesitate to keep your lines of communication open, doing so, will ensure that your project will be successful.