Need a contractor? Here are the 3 questions to ask a contractor BEFORE you sign a contract!
As a homeowner, hiring a contractor to do work on your home can be stressful and time consuming. A lot can go wrong. To help you, here are our top 3 questions to ask a contractor that you may not have considered. These questions will help you save some time and energy in finding a contractor that is the best fit for you.
1. Ask to talk to references
Our number one on the list of questions to ask a contractor is: Ask for references. And reviews on Yelp or Houzz don’t count. Ask to speak to someone on the phone that your contractor did work for in the past year. A reputable contractor will be more than willing to let you talk to a satisfied customer.
Some things to discuss:
- What type of work did this contractor do for you?
- What was your experience with your contractor? Did they deliver on the agreed upon work?
- Were they able to stick to project timelines or did they communicate about any unanticipated delays?
- Did they stick to the budget or discuss any unexpected expenditures or overtime?
- How would you rate the quality of their work?
- Would you hire them again?
While you are at it, you can ask to see photos, portfolios or do drive-bys (for exterior or landscaping) of their work.
2. Ask About Payment
Another one of our questions to ask a contractor is all about the money. Always get a clear (written!) answer on payment and the fee schedule. It is good to get full clarity on payment BEFORE the work starts.
Some things to ask about:
- Do you require a deposit? How much
- Who pays for materials and supplies?
- When is final payment due? Is it when you finish the work, within 30 days, etc.
- How do you invoice? Is the invoice itemized?
- What forms of payment do you accept?
Estimate vs. Quote?
Another question you will want to ask: Is this an estimate or is it a firm quote? Keep in mind that an estimate is just a guess based on what they think a job might cost. A firm quote is much more definite (assuming of course there are no major surprises or add-ons to the job). Again, be sure to specify and get all quotes in writing.
3. Ask to See Their Credentials
Another one of our questions to ask a contractor has to do with making sure they can safely provide you with the services you need.
Always ask for:
- License and any certifications
- Proof that they do background checks on their employees
- Proof of insurance – you don’t want to be liable if someone is injured on your property
- And if it is a major remodel you can even ask to be added as co-insured on their carrier
Remember, your contractor is going to be working in your home – you want to be sure that, like any guest, you feel comfortable with them being there.
Finally some resources:
- Some additional things you might want to consider when hiring a contractor from How Stuff Works
- A useful VIDEO from Jeremy on some additional tips to hiring a contractor (plus one lesson we learned the hard way)
- Our list of vendors and contractors that we’ve worked with over the years