When undertaking a home renovation project, whether major or minor, it is important to hire the right person for the job. You want someone who understands the job you want done and will work with you to make your dream come true. After all, you will have to live with the end result. The following are a few questions you should ask to make sure you find the contractor you need for your dream project.
- How long have you been in business?
Although there may be some very talented contractors who are just starting out, an experienced professional will usually get you better results. Someone who has been in the business for several years will have dealt with the ups and downs of the job and know how to handle unexpected problems and setbacks. If they have worked under a different company name, why did they change? What was the reputation of their former company? Don’t be afraid to verify that they are properly licensed and insured to work on your home. This is your home they are working on and the right contractor shouldn’t have any secrets about their business practices.
- What kind of experience do you have with projects like mine?
Just as you wouldn’t get someone who specializes in oil changes to change the brakes on your car, you wouldn’t hire a roofer to do your stonework. Similarly, you shouldn’t get someone who specializes in siding to do your stone or stucco work. Find out if the contractor you are hiring has done the specific type of work you need. When? How many have you done in the last year? Can you show me examples? Contractors who have done projects that they are proud of, will often have pictures of their work. Can you talk to past clients? Don’t be afraid to ask. Know what you can expect.
- What is your timeline?
An important thing to know before hiring any contractor is how long they expect your project to take. The last thing you want is to have a renovation project that goes on and on, without any end in sight. Not only is it frustrating to be waiting to see what the final product looks like, your whole life is going to be disrupted by workers coming and going, supplies and tools in your yard, trucks in your driveway. To keep your mind on the final product, you should know in detail what to expect and when. The contractor you hire should be able to give you a detailed description of what the renovation project should look like: when workers should show up every morning, when the work day ends, what daily cleanup they will do, where they will be working each day and how much space they will be using and what the daily goals are. Some of the timeline will be fluid, as unexpected delays can occasionally happen, but this should be the exception rather than the rule. It is important for you to ask what other projects the company is working on, and if this will take them away from your project for any length of time. Knowing the timeline upfront will help with your peace of mind and allow you to enjoy watching your renovation come together.
- Could you please itemize your bid and put it in writing?
It is always a good idea to find out what is included in a project bid. The last thing any homeowner wants is a bill that turns out to be considerably higher than the initial bid. Ask your contractor to itemize everything that is expected to go into your renovation project: materials, supplies, labour, etc., and put it all down in a written contract. If there are any variables, find out what they are and how much they can affect the final price. Find out what your payment schedule is: how much is the down payment, at what points of the project are additional payments expected. Most of all, find out the bottom line price. What is your worst case scenario? Be sure that you aren’t getting in over your head.
- Who is my contact person during the job?
Quite often, and especially in larger contracting firms, the person you talk to about the project will not be the person doing the day-to-day work. Be sure to find out who will be in charge of the actual day-to-day running of the project and get an introduction, so you know who to talk to if you have any questions or concerns. It would also be helpful to know what subcontractors will be working on the project, so you don’t get surprised by an unfamiliar company name on a truck. Be aware of who, exactly, will be working on your home and what their qualifications are. Lastly, make sure that you know how to contact the person with whom you made the contract, in case you have to discuss something important.
Remember that asking the right questions and getting the answers you need will ensure that you have a home renovation project that you can be proud of.