How to Select the Right Contractor
Updated: Apr 17, 2018
You're finally ready to interview contractors! What should you ask? Below is a list of my go-to questions I always ask a potential contractor.
1. Do their projects typically run on time or not?
Let's be honest, beyond budget, time is one of the most important factors to consider when selecting a contractor. There's always bound to be delays but some of the better contractors charge a premium because they are always on time.
2. Do they have an in-house crew and if so what does that crew do?
Most contractors use a mix of employee/staff and subcontractors to get a project done. I like to found out which parts are going to be subbed out and which will get done by the in-house crew.
3. Do they use subcontractors and if so which parts would be subbed out? Do they use the same subcontractors for all of their jobs?
It's completely normal to use subcontractors, what I want to understand is how well they know their subs. The better contractors will work with the same subs every time. That ensures that the work is high caliber and that the contractor has a good deal of leeway with them in case issues arise.
4. Have they worked in your neighborhood before? Your city? Do they know any inspectors or city workers?
It's always optimal when your contractor is familiar with your city's regulations and even better if they are friendly with the city workers who will be reviewing permit applications and doing inspections.
5. Ask for phone and in-person references.
You want to call references but you also want to see their work in person. Plus when you come over to someone's house they tend to spill the beans much more than over the phone. They'll start to recall issues or mishaps as they walk you through the final outcome. Again, it's ok that things went wrong. What's more important is how the contractor dealt with the issues.
6. Do they live locally?
It's always nice to work with someone who lives close by and cares about your neighborhood.
7. What their payment schedule is like?
You should never have to pre-pay a lump sum to any contractor. Legally they can only collect payment for work that has happened. Your first payment should be after demo.
8. Who is the foreman on your project? Can you meet him/her?
Typically the contractor you interview isn't the guy that will be at your job site every day. Make sure you meet with the foreman so you can ensure you get along with that person as well.
9. How do they deal with issues and changes?
It's important to understand if they are comfortable with changes and can handle them well without stressing you out.
10. Ask if they are on Yelp, Houzz, and/or Facebook.
Most reputable contractors will have their social media and website set up so you can review their work and read reviews. If they don't have a website or anywhere to direct you to that is a red flag.
11. Do they have a contractor's license?
This is a must! You can verify that here and see if they have any complaints filed against them.
12. Lastly, make sure you like them! You'll be dealing with this person for a long time and will be having uncomfortable conversations about budgets and timelines. They'll be in your home. It's best to do that with someone you genuinely like as a human being.
The best way to gauge this is to try to talk them on a more personal level at the end or beginning of the interview. Find out if they have kids, where they live, what hobbies they have, etc. You can simply even ask them, "Would you please tell me a little about yourself so we can get to know who you are?"
You're one step closer to getting your remodel started! Good luck!
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