Deciding to embark on a home improvement project is the first step; the next is finding the right person for the job.
And let’s be honest, sorting through a sea of contractors can be daunting. It’s not like the old days where you could just rifle through the yellow pages and find the closest person to you. Google has made it possible to have every contractor in a specific radius at your fingertips, and now you have to narrow it down.
One thing that hasn’t changed is the value of face-to-face interactions. (Of course, face-to-face looks a bit different right now because there’s usually a screen involved.) But if you’re bringing a crew into your home, you want to be sure that you can trust them implicitly. Additionally, you want to make sure that you and your contractor are on the same page about everything before signing any documents.
As you begin your search to find the perfect contractor for your project, you’ll want to have a set of questions ready for each phone call or meeting. You’re not a robot, so it’s okay to deviate from your script. However, writing out a list of questions to reference will ensure you hit all of your talking points.
How Long Have You Been in This Business?
While being new may not immediately mean that the contractor won’t do a good job, contractors with more experience have already worked through their growing pains. Or maybe the company is new, but the people have been in the industry for years.
You want your renovation project to be as seamless as possible. Ideally, your contractor will have a list of at least ten previous customers. You can also ask if it would be okay to reach out to some of their previous customers.
Do You Have a Contracting License?
If the answer is no, find a different contractor. We don’t just mean a business license—your contractor should have a certificate demonstrating that they know how to perform a given service.
You can use the TLDR to verify licenses for contractors in Texas, but the contractor should be more than willing to show you their license. Working with a licensed contractor protects you in case of an issue.
Can I See Your Certificate of Insurance?
You also want to see proof that your contractor has the proper insurance for your project. Contractors need both workers’ compensation and liability policies for the types of jobs they perform.
What’s Our Schedule?
Besides a start and end date, your contractor should provide you with clear events and deadlines. Of course, there will always be some kind of obstacle, but you should know what the day-in and day-out schedule will be for the project’s duration.
Will the Same People be Here Every Day?
This answer will vary based on the size of the company and its COVID protocols. In a perfect world, you’d have a dedicated team for your project. Having the same people in your home each day fosters trust. At the same time, you want to feel safe knowing that your contractor isn’t forcing sick workers to come in to stay on schedule. Go with your gut on this one.
You can also ask who the project manager will be, if they work with subcontractors, and how often the company owner will touch base with the project manager.
What Is the Payment Schedule?
You should never pay the total price of a project upfront. Any contractor asking for complete payment before the project is completed is not the person you want to work with. At the same time, you want to have absolute clarity on how much you owe your contractor and when.
What’s the Best Way for Me to Contact You?
It’s helpful to ask your contractor what their preferred method of communication is. This allows you to set your expectations and the contractor to set their boundaries.
How Will You Clean Up at the End of the Day?
The best contractors will handle the cleanup at the end of the day, especially if you’re staying in the house throughout the renovation. Be sure that they agree to take out the trash, pick up stray items, and wipe down any surfaces.
You can also ask how and where tools and materials will be stored at the end of each day for multi-day projects.
Is There a Warranty for Your Service?
Many contractors provide a guarantee or a warranty for their work, and it’s best to know before you start the project how long this warranty will be in effect. You can also ask for copies of the manufacturer’s warranty for any appliances you have installed.