Hiring a new contractor can feel like a gamble. How do you know you are hiring a hardworking, reliable, and trustworthy person? One of the greatest assets you own is your home. Don’t leave it in the wrong hands.
Before you hire a contractor, do your due diligence. If you take the proper precautions, you have a better chance of saving yourself the hassle and headache of a botched construction job.
If you are starting to get a little freaked out, take a breath and calm down. We got you covered. Your friendly and professional helpers at Dupont Construction have compiled a list of the essential questions you should ask a contractor before you hire one.
Give us a call and try them out on us, we promise we will pass.
Whatever you do, when you are looking for a new contractor, don’t hire one without asking him or her these 10 questions.
1. How Long Have You Been a Contractor?
Experience is not the most important thing when it comes to hiring a contractor. But, hopefully, your contractor has been working for enough time to become proficient at his or her trade.
If your contractor has been working in his field for several years and has a good track record, you can assume he cares about his work. Passion and dedication are two excellent qualities you want in your potential contractor.
2. Are You Licensed?
Though the laws vary by state, most states require a contractor to be licensed. As you are researching contractors, you should also examine your region’s regulations. You want your contractor to be licensed by the state.
As the homeowner, the risk is all yours. You want to ensure as many layers of protection as possible whenever you invoke on any massive undertaking. Remodeling your house is one of the most significant projects you will ever undertake.
3. Do You Carry Workman’s Comp Liability Insurance For All of Your Employees?
You remember those layers of protection we mentioned earlier? Here we have another one. You need to hire a contractor who insures his employees. You can check out your state’s requirements here.
Workman’s comp is crucial because it ensures that you won’t be liable for any accidents that may occur during your project. If your contractor fails to provide insurance for all the workers on the jog, you may have to pay for any medical bills that may pop up.
4. Do YOU Have Insurance?
Your contractor should also have company insurance. This insurance will cover the cost of any accidents or damage that might occur during the construction.
As we all know, accidents can happen. The peace of mind you will get from knowing you are covered if the worst happens will be priceless.
5. Which Professional Organizations Do You Belong To?
Joining a professional organization is not a mandatory step for a contractor. We would also tell you not to discount a contractor you like simply because he or she is not a member of one of these organizations.
On the other hand, if your potential contractor has gone the extra mile, it just shows his commitment to his craft. Plus, many of these organizations offer additional training, networking, and research materials to members that they cannot get elsewhere.
6. Can You Provide Me With Any References?
Asking this question will potentially provide you with answers no matter how your contractor responds. If he or she happily provide you with glowing references, that’s a good sign you have found an honest contractor.
If, on the other hand, you don’t hear from them again, you know you are probably better off going with someone else. Your potential contractor can say he is honest and dependable, but if none of his former clients can back up that claim, how true can it be?
7. What is the Timeline For My Project?
No one knows the future. Unexpected delays are unfortunate and often inevitable. That said, you want your contractor to provide you with a concrete answer to this question.
If he flip flops or doesn’t give you a straight answer, you might want to take that as a potential warning. If you are still unsure, you should ask for a time and materials contract. This contract simply outlines the hourly rate and cost of materials for any unexpected delays.
You can also ask your contractor how often he finishes a project on time. This percentage will help you make a more informed decision.
8. How Hands-On Are You?
You will want to ask your contractor if he will be on-site throughout the project. If not, you need to know how often he checks in. Additionally, you should ask who will be in charge when your contractor is offsite.
It is understandable that your contractor has other jobs and will likely be unable to be at your job every second of the day. In those cases, you want to know that someone trustworthy is on top of things. It’s a good idea to ask him to meet his project manager.
9. Have You Ever Been Involved In Any Legal Disputes?
While involvement in a legal dispute shouldn’t immediately disqualify a potential candidate, you should know your contractor’s legal history.
As we said before, accidents happen. Details matter, though. What matters more, though, is honesty and a forthcoming approach. If you ask your contractor this question and he lies to you, it is time to look elsewhere.
Check the Better Business Bureau to corroborate your potential contractor’s story.
10. What Will Be Included in the Contract?
You need to know upfront what the contract will entail. Here are a few of the contract questions you should ask;
- What are we agreeing to do?
- What is the anticipated time frame?
- Who pulls the permits?
- Do we need a line item for the cost of materials and time to complete the job?
- Will you offer a guarantee on your work? If so, what is it?
- What is the payment schedule?
- Will there be a termination clause?
Without a written and signed agreement, all of your contractor’s promises are meaningless. You should not agree to work with a contractor without one. Always protect yourself.