Having a professional contractor help you with your home improvements can make completing your project easier in a number of ways – if you hire the right company.
Renovation projects of any kind can be extremely stressful. While working on your home, it can be difficult to keep things running smoothly and stick to your projected timeline, especially if managing your reno is not your full-time job.
For these reasons, it’s not too hard to see why many property owners choose to hire an expert to help them complete their home renovations. But before you bring on a potential contractor to work on your project, there’s a list of questions you should ask.
In this article, we cover the top 10 questions to include when interviewing a construction or contracting company. Read on to learn more!
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What Questions to Ask a Contractor in an Interview
1. Can you tell me a bit about your company and experience?
This question allows you to get some background on how long their business has been around, as well as what type of projects they may specialize in. If a contractor doesn’t provide this information in answer to this question, don’t worry. You can always ask them more specifically about what type of jobs they’ve completed as a follow-up.
A question like this can also help you get a better sense of how long a trades professional has been in the industry. In the event that you’re speaking to a member of their team, rather than the company owner, you can inquire about the background of the founder or lead contractor.
2. Do you contract out any of the services involved in your projects?
This question gives you the opportunity to understand what work the contractor you’re hiring will do themselves. For example, are they a project manager who then contracts out all technical services of the project like plumbing, electrical, and carpentry? Or do they have crew members in-house who can complete all aspects of your reno?
At this point in the conversation, you can also ask how big their crew is. If it’s a large enough company, it can even be worth asking if it will be the same employees working on your project the entire time, or if there may be new people each day.
Another great aspect to this question is that it will allow you to find out if the person you’re speaking to will be on-site. If they’re more of a general contractor, you’d expect them to come by the job site frequently. However, if they’re one of the company’s sales people, they won’t be involved once your project gets going.
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3. Have you worked on similar construction projects before?
When you inquire about past jobs, this can be a great opportunity to ask if you can see photos of their previous work.
Not all contractors will have a portfolio prepped and ready to share with you but you can always see if they’re on social media or if a past customer has posted photos online. For example, some construction companies will post before and after pictures of their projects on their Facebook Business Page or Instagram. And it’s not uncommon for happy clients to share photos of their completed renos on Google Review.
Related read: 4 Tips to Choose the Best Contractor for Your Job
4. Can you share any reviews or references?
As mentioned above, in looking for photos of a contractor’s past work, you may find online reviews about the company you’re considering. However, if you don’t, you can always ask for them.
Other places that you may be able to find reviews or references include the company’s website or a home-services review site like HomeStars.
5. Do you have trades and contractor’s insurance?
When you invite someone into your home to work on one of your most valuable assets, you want to make sure they have the proper liability insurance in place. Trades and contractor’s insurance provides coverage for independent contractors in case of:
- Injury on a job site
- Property damage
- Faulty work
- Theft of tools and equipment
This means that if the unexpected should happen during your reno, your contractor’s insurance will help ensure you won’t experience financial loss or damages.
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6. Will you provide a written contract?
Not all trades professionals will offer you a written contract, especially if they’re a smaller operation. For example, a plumber who doesn’t have any employees and primarily works on one-to-two-day jobs may not offer written contracts.
It’s important to clarify whether you’ll be receiving a document of this sort at the beginning of the project to avoid any miscommunications later on.
7. Do you provide any warranties for your work or services?
While not always necessary or available, it never hurts to ask if your potential contractor offers warranties for the work they will be completing.
Related read: How to make claim against contractor insurance
8. What’s your estimated timeline for my project?
While it’s impossible to know exactly how long a renovation or home improvement will take, you can still ask for an estimate. At this point in the conversation, you can also inquire as to how many other projects they will have on the go during your reno.
If you’ll be one of several, it’s worth asking how the company manages multiple job sites at a time and whether any issues on another project may impact yours.
9. Is your quote fixed or just an estimate?
Some contracting companies and trades professionals will provide you with a fixed quote. No matter how long the project takes or materials used – whether more or less than estimated – you pay what they quoted you prior to the work.
However, other contractors prefer charging for parts and labour, meaning that you pay for the exact amount of materials used, as well as the time spent on your project.
Once you clarify whether the costs will be fixed or variable, you can also ask what their invoicing will be like. For example, will you pay one total bill at the end of the project? Or will your payment schedule be in monthly instalments for the work completed every 30 days?
10. Who will be my main point of contact?
Before wrapping up your interview, ask who you will be primarily communicating with throughout your project. This can help you determine who you will have a direct line of communication to, such as your contractor, a sales rep, a lead crew member, or an administrative assistant.
After you’ve figured out who your point of contact will be, ask how they would prefer to communicate. Certain people may prefer text or email, while others may want a quick phone call.
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