We've all heard the awful stories of people finding "contractors" to do a job for them and unfortunately, they either never show, take the money and run, or just do a terrible job. It's time to get armed with tools to protect yourself from being taken advantage of and eliminate exposure of naivety.
Here are 10 questions you should be asking on your path to finding a reliable contractor for your next home renovation project:
Can you give me a free estimate using company letterhead? For legal purposes, always get quotes in writing and with the company name and information in the heading. You'll also want to get estimates from multiple businesses to compare pricing, what's included, and compare responses to the questions on your intake discussions.
What is your clean-up policy? Discuss what is and is not included in the price and have it documented as part of the quote. If there is demo work or garbage from the project, who is responsible for disposal? Are they going to leave the home the same way they found it? Do a final walk through before they leave and before you make the final payment to ensure the work and clean-up meets your expectations.
What guarantees do you offer? A good practice is to have warranties and guarantees with timeframes included on the initial quote for accountability reasons should anything happen after their work has concluded.
When do you require payment? It's imperative you're on the same page and have an agreed upon a payment schedule. Take caution around contractors who require cash up front, ask for payment outside of the agreed payment cadence, and those who charge by the hour.
May I have a copy of your contractors’ licenses? A great way to ensure they are a legitimate company is to verify licenses and photocopy the contractor license so you have it as reference if needed.
May I have a copy of the contractors’ insurance? Not only should you take a photo or photocopy insurance details, but be sure that it's current and valid.
How long have you been in business? When it comes down to selecting a contractor, you want someone with experience and not new or just getting started.
Do you have references we can contact? Get at least three people that can speak to their work, show pictures of work done, and ask if they'd recommend them. Check out feedback on Facebook Business Pages or search their name in Google and Facebook to see what comes up. You can never be too thorough, so if you can, check the contractors’ rating with the Better Business Bureau.
What Associations are you members of? Check to see if the contractor is a member of local Home Builders Associations or members of any professional groups. This will allow you to verify their work and see what credentials they have.
What is your current timeline? Find out how long the project is going to take and when they can get started. This will allow you to plan and be on the same page about timeframe expectations.
As you begin your journey to finding a reliable contractor, in addition to these ten questions, you should also think of questions specific to your project. Think of the questions you're asked in a job interview; you should be treating this process as detailed and in-depth as hiring teams do in their search for the perfect candidate for a job. Ask yourself, are there requirements that are important for your project like eco-friendliness, types of materials used, etc. or are there any considerations they need to take into account? It's always better to get your questions and specifics out in the open during your initial discovery phase before you select a contractor and get your project started.
Good luck in your search and remember, you don't need them, they need you and your business, so make them earn it!