bring contractors, carpenters, plumbers and assorted workmen into your
home, you are opening up your whole life to them. Not only do you need
to confirm that they are competent professionals, you must assess their
integrity, as well. You want to know that you can trust them to do the
job right, as well as respect your home and its contents. You can avoid
most serious problems with a little planning and foresight. You want
both capable and honest workers in your home, and can increase your
chances of a successful and stress-free renovation by using this list
of the top 10 questions to ask contractors before hiring them.
Insurance and bonding – Make sure your contractor is fully insured
before you let him start your job. The company and/or the employees
should be bonded, and you should ask for the particulars of the
insurance coverage early in your negotiations.
2. Warranties – You will
want to know what kind of home building warranties are provided, on
both the work itself and on the materials used in the project. You
should keep good records of any warranted work or materials so that you
are prepared for any problems down the line.
3. References – Checking
contractors’ references is crucial. Not only do you want to hear
testimonials about their work, you will want to discover if they are
they part of any homebuilder or tradesman associations. Checking
references means speaking with other homeowners for whom the
contractors have worked, as well as consulting the state licensing
board and the Better Business Bureau about any complaints.
– Take a good look at the contractors’ portfolios and make sure that
you are satisfied with the level of their previous work. Drive by some
of their current and finished projects to see how their work looks “up
close and personal.”
5. Job supervisor – Make sure that you know who
the onsite supervisor will be for your renovation. What is the person’s
experience? Will they speak and make decisions for the contractor in
6. Project timeframe – A timetable is crucial for any big
job, of any kind, so you need to ask specific questions about when the
job will start, how long each phase will take and so forth. This
information will be part of your project plan, so you need to get it
early and get it “set in stone.” Of course, you need to be flexible
(things happen, after all), but if you do not have a detailed
timetable, flexibility will simply turn into delays.
7. Budget – You
will want to calculate the cost for your home improvement as accurately
as possible, naturally. Make sure your contractor has a plan, too, and
breaks out the costs of materials and labor. Find out right away what
type of payment plan is expected, as well as what sort of deposit is
required. Needless to say, keep all receipts.
8. Subcontractors – If
the contractor uses subcontractors, as most will for electrical and
plumbing work (at the least), make sure to get the same kind of
information about them as you did on the contractor. You also need to
keep the communication flowing between and among all the different
parties, or you risk deviating from the project plan.
9. Appliances and
other hardware – It is your house and your money, so you do not need to
cede the authority for buying materials and appliances entirely to the
contractor. It is perfectly understandable that you would want to get
the best prices for the components of the project. The way to avoid
problems is to spell everything out in advance. If the contractor is
too insistent on using particular suppliers or distributors, it may be
because they have some kind of “arrangement” with them. Keep everything
on the up and up by keeping everything out in the open.
10. Permits –
You need to decide who will be responsible for getting the proper
building permits and dealing with inspectors. The contractor’s
expertise here is essential, although you may wish to be in the loop
here. Like any other sizable endeavor, a home renovation can be
complicated and tricky.
The best overall rule for managing this kind of
project is clear, continuous communication. Nothing should be decided
or done in the dark, and everything should be undertaken in accordance
with the plan, the budget and the timetable. It is mostly a matter of
common sense and self-discipline. Make the plan and stick to it as
closely as possible, while still allowing for some mid-stream changes
if necessary. Remember that the goal is to enhance your family life by
making the center of it, your home, as comfortable, welcoming and
secure as you can. Stay positive, keep your wits about you and press
on, deliberately and with a sense of purpose. Consider your home
renovation another adventure in life, and make your mind up to enjoy
About The Author
Home Renovation Guide provides free information and advice on all aspect of home renovations from information on a variety of topics to our contractor directory – we have the information you need to get the job done right. Visit them today.