13 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Contractor

There’s a lot that goes into any home project, no matter the size. From the initial design phase, obtaining permits, and the execution – the process can be complex. With so many decisions involved in a home project, it’s essential to take the time to carefully choose your contractor. Having a team that you can trust and see yourself working well with over the course of the project will help make the process a breeze.

To help you prepare for your upcoming home project, we thought who better to ask than the experts themselves? We reached out to professionals in the remodeling and construction industry – all the way from Los Angeles, CA to Toronto, ON – for the top questions to ask a contractor before deciding who is best for your project.

Here are 13 questions to ask before hiring a contractor:

1) Ask yourself if the project calls for a full-service remodeling contractor or if a handyman can do the job.

Using a glorified handyman to take on a complex project can be disastrous. The difference is professionalism. If your project involves more than just minor repairs, or you’re doing more than just updating finishes (such as tile or paint), you want a bona-fide remodeling contractor. Ask the company you’re considering “What type(s) of work do you specialize in? Are you registered/licensed, and do you belong to a professional industry group like the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) or BBB? Show me your work, give me some references, and tell me about your processes”. Adding these items to the list of questions to ask a contractor will help you decide if they’re a good fit for your project. – Michael Hill, owner, CCH Design | Remodel of Meridian Idaho

2) Do you handle all phases of the project, from design to construction?

You’ll want to hire someone who can walk you through the entire process, from helping with the design and renderings to acquiring necessary permits and executing the work professionally. Working with the same company throughout the entire project keeps the process smooth and seamless, as opposed to hiring different people throughout every phase. – Yourson Contracting

3) What is your creative process like?

In order to get the beautiful end result that you’ve been dreaming of, it’s important to ask this question before hiring your professional. Not only will it allow you to gauge what their design knowledge, experience, and process are like, but it will help you understand your level of involvement in the process as well. A collaborative and detailed creative process will allow you to have more design input and will result in a more complete set of floor plans and specifications; ensuring your project stays on schedule and on budget. – MA Peterson Designbuild, Inc.

4) Have you had any projects similar to this? And what obstacles did you have to overcome?

This question gives the homeowner a chance to see how much experience the contractor has with a similar project. With construction obstacles coming up constantly, giving examples of issues can be unnerving but it can give the homeowner confidence knowing how the contractor resolved an issue. – The S.J. Janis Company

5) Can you provide me with local references and examples of your work?

Ascertaining the quality of a contractor’s work will not only give you proof of their skills, but it will also help you save money in the long run. References show that your contractor gets the job done without workmanship issues. Calling in someone new to fix a previous contractor’s mistakes will ultimately cost a lot more money so it’s best to choose someone with a good track record. – DIY Bunker

6) Do you offer a warranty?

This is one of the critical questions to ask your contractor. After your project is complete and the dust has settled, it’s important to know whether or not your contractor will stand behind their work in the event of a failure or malfunction. Ask your contractor for specific details on their warranty policy, including what is and isn’t covered and how long the warranty period will last. – Straight Line Design & Remodeling

7) Can we visit a couple of your previous projects?

What better way to examine a contractor’s work than to see it with your own eyes? Seeing is believing and your home renovation project shouldn’t be any different. When a contractor has built strong relationships with their clients, this is often something that they can arrange. If your contractor is unable to show you the quality of their work or provide contact information for past homeowners, you should take that as a sign to find a more credible contractor to work with. – 2×2 Construction

8) How many projects do you have going on and what is the timeline for our project?

This is an important question to ask a contractor to make sure the contractor isn’t too busy to take on the homeowner’s project. The homeowner will also want to know when the contractor will start and complete the project, and what the project schedule will be. This way the homeowner can be prepared and plan around the construction. This will also help the homeowner be ready for any materials they are providing to be on site for when the contractor needs them, avoiding delays. – AGA Construction Inc.

9) Can you tell me about an issue you’ve dealt with recently where something went wrong on a project and how you handled it?

Interview your contractor as you would interview a prospective employee by asking open-ended questions. Hearing stories about how they’ve overcome obstacles in the past will provide valuable insight on how they would handle issues on your project. It will also open up a discussion around expectations for communication going forward. – Synergy Design & Construction

10) Will there be a dedicated team working on my project?

As we navigate home renovations during COVID-19, this might be one of the most important questions to cover with your contractor.  When it comes to who will be on the job – consistency is key. It’s normal for contracting companies to be working on multiple projects at once, so make sure to verify that there will be a dedicated team on your project. If this is not an option, make sure the company goes over the safety
precautions that have been put in place due to COVID-19. – Penn Construction & Design

11) Do you anticipate any challenges on this project?

Home improvement projects aren’t always straightforward. Before agreeing to work with a contractor or handyman, be sure to ask what issues could be discovered along the way directly. This will help you decide if you need to hire a professional and set proper expectations about costs and timeline. Dealing with surprises in the middle of a project is miserable. – Homes & Land

12) Ask yourself: can I live with this remodeling team in my home for the next 2, 3, or even 6 months?

Homeowners should hire the company they feel most comfortable with. I like to believe we are in the relationship-building business and we do a lot of remodeling on the side. Building trust and rapport with clients is just as important as building good projects. – The Cleary Company Remodel-Design-Build

13) Who is responsible for cleanup?

This little detail is often forgotten and easily overlooked, especially when the job at hand takes less than a few hours. Regardless of the job’s scope, be sure to ask a contractor at the beginning who is responsible for the mess and how your space will be protected. Let’s face it – contractors aren’t known for being tidy, but you can be sure your contract covers all aspects of your project; so you’re not stuck holding the bag
(the garbage bag that is). –

Originally published on Redfin