Top Things To Ask A Remodeling Contractor Before Hiring Them
Before selecting a contractor to do any remodeling, there are some things to ask.
If you’ve been around or been on the web for even a bit of time, you know that you should always do two things at least:
– get three bids, and
– ask for references.
But what should you do when everyone’s busy, and you can’t get three bids? Uh-oh! you need to double down then, because if there are only a few contractors left, you need to suspect as to why that’s the case. What’s wrong with these companies?
And asking remodelers for their references is good, but how many remodel clients take the time to chase them down and ask good questions for a reference? Not many, that’s for sure!
Regardless of whether there are lots of window, door or kitchen or whatever contractors available or not, try these questions to help select the right group.
Ask about other jobs that are JUST like yours. Of course, they may not have done any, or it may have been a while ago, but ask. You’re looking for those professionals who have insight into the things you don’t know about, or don’t know you don’t know.
For instance, there is a difference between a small budget kitchen remodel and a large budget remodel. In a small remodel, there are different choices to make than with a kitchen with more features. The cabinet suppliers for low-end vs. high end cabinets are different, and if your contractor doesn’t have those preferred relations, they don’t get preferred pricing and therefore the end price to your, the client, is higher.
Ask about their other jobs RIGHT now, or the ones they expect to take while on your job. If it’s a large kitchen remodel, the contractor may be tempted to start three or four more jobs before completing your job, which will naturally slow yours down.
There is a natural tendency of contractors to start new jobs and take the deposit. The pay to work ratio is just too good a deal! So they can run around town starting and reserving jobs, then complete them at a pace that works for them (when they can’t start any others). You just don’t want to be part of this mess, so ask & if you feel there is a risk, set ground rules about how often the workers need to be on the site working, and what milestones need to be completed when. And of course, tie it all to money.
Normally, construction job payouts are tied to specific builds, but it is not as common to tie those stages to a calendar date, and extract penalties when deadlines are missed.
Ask about their workers.
Which ones will be on your project, who the project lead is (if not the contractor), and will they be there every day or all the time. It’s not nescessary for these things ,but don’t let yourself be surprised later as you assumed you’d be the only client they’re taking care of. It’s an easy impression to get if you don’t ask.
Ask about their sub-contractors.
For larger jobs ask for referrences for their subcontractors, or try places like Yelp or Angie’s list. If you don’t like what you hear, ask the contractor if they can use someone else.
Ask about job times, days, bathrooms, and other mundane logistics.
Ask about the contractors finances and their working capital.
If this a large home remodeling job, such as a complete remodel or second story addition on a home, and there are long stretches bewteen contactor payments, you need to know if the contractor is sufficiently able to buy materials and pay their workers. If not, they will leave your job and work another one to earn a payment. Or worse, they will go broke, or ask you for more money because they’re broke, and claim the job was not profitable enough.
Contractors can be REALLY bad with money, and you don’t want to be the client who is stuck while they try to make their company big enough to handle such jobs.
Ask for a performance or deadline guarantee.
They may not give it to you, but their answer may tell you more about their confidence in completing the job on time or not!