There are many important questions one must ask a prospective contractor, which is nothing new. However, asking the RIGHT questions can be something of a task, and which questions are crucial to finding the perfect contract for YOUR next project. Have no fear, our team of construction experts at Mentor Homes has compiled a list of the most important questions you should ask your next contractor!
- How Long Have You Been In Business?
The business of Construction isn’t an easy one, and a seasoned contractor is hard to come by. Don’t get us wrong, the new kid on the block can be just as great as the older kid, but that does not mean you can’t ask how many years of experience they have. It is crucial to understand that contractors have systems/regulations and procedures in place to ensure the quality, and quantity of your project- and the amount of years they have been in business, well it just reassures that they are in fact EXPERTS. Do your research, read reviews, and learn about your building codes, yourself! If you are more inclined to go with the new guy versus the latter, do it: maybe start he/her off with a smaller project.
- What is your work day like?
It is pertinent that the homeowners and the contractor be on the same page, especially when it comes to day-to-day operations. You must know what to expect when construction begins, as you should even if you do not plan to be home. So, here are some additional questions you might want answers to:
-Do I need to remove any existing items that may be in or near the designated work area?
– Should I be home at any point of the day during construction?
-What is will the noise level be like?
You should also advise your contractor on key information about the project prior to your start date:
- The parking situation in your neighborhood
- Which restrooms, if any, are available for use
- Where available power outlets are located
- Who, if anyone, will be home during construction (including pets)
Are You Insured?
Being Insured and Being licensed can sound the same, but are very, very different. A contractor should have not only worker’s compensation but liability coverage- that is specific to the job they perform. Ask away, seeing that your contractor has the proper insurance coverage will give you peace of mind, and halt any unnecessary drama that could arise if the prospected contractor is not insured! So make sure he or she is insured in the area you NEED, and not in an entirely different capacity.
- Permits, My problem or Yours?
It is important to know if your next project requires inspections or permits, but not every project needs a permit however, most projects involving structural changes do. Your next contractor should know exactly what permits you need for your next project. Rather it may be a home inspection or a certain permit- they must know how to get them and be willing to get it done for you!
When will the project be completed?
We are sure that as a Homeowner, you want to know exactly when your next project starts and when it is completed. Do not be afraid to ask about the timeline of your project, and what other circumstances can affect your expected timeline. Here are a couple more questions that may help clarify your projected completion date.
- Are there any other projects that may interfere with our projected timeline?
- Do you have any current bids that have not been completed that may affect this job?
- How will necessary changes to our timeline be handled?
- What is the Payment Schedule?
Be aware that no contractor should ask for the whole project cost upfront. The Better Business Bureau advises to never pay full price for any contracting job upfront, as well. Moreover, a payment schedule should be worked out before construction begins, and everything is signed, sealed, and delivered!
Things to Consider:
- Payment Dates
- Payment methods
- How will you protect my property during the project course?
This may be one of the toughest questions to ask your contractor simply for the fact that it may seem disrespectful. However, it’s an important one that you’ll need to ask in advance of construction.
Your contractor should be willing to take reasonable measures to protect your property, so be sure to ask what specifically he’ll do:
- Will you use tarps to cover large furniture items and surfaces in work areas?
- Will crew members wear shoe coverings when they enter my home? Will you recommend items that I should move to other areas of my home to protect them from damage?
- Will you close or lock doors as necessary when entering and leaving my home, and where will you keep the keys?
- What about additional Charges, if any?
Thanks to technology advancements, contractors are able to give more accurate pricing than ever before. Still, home improvement can be unpredictable at times, unfortunate circumstances may arise which, may increase the estimated price that was originally offered to you. It’s critical that your contractor be clear that he won’t spend a penny over your agreed-upon budget without first gaining your approval — and if you hire him or her, this should also be specified in your contract.
- How will you keep the worksite clean?
Part of keeping a clean, clutter-free workspace once the team has left for the day includes putting tools away. If they have large pieces of equipment they plan on storing in your home every evening, be sure to discuss where they will be kept and how they will be transported there(You probably don’t want heavy items to be dragged across your hardwood floors on their way to the garage). Establish that your contractor will remove all trash, pick up stray items like nails from floors and outdoor areas, and wipe down surfaces that have gotten dusty during construction at the end of every workday. By the way, make sure you show them the trash.
10.How will any disagreements(if any)be handled?
Unfortunately, mistakes and disagreements do sometimes occur, despite the best intentions of contractors and homeowners. Asking a contractor how he handles disputes tells you that they have a process for taking care of situations in which clients aren’t fully satisfied. Write down any questions you have about the project, and any questions you may have during and after.
If your contractor admits that there has been a dispute or two in his past, this isn’t necessarily a red flag so long as he treated the situation respectfully. When and if a dispute happens, give the contractor the opportunity to fix it.
-A contractor that asks a fair amount of questions may be trying to uncover what you really want, but one that just nods and agrees with anything you- is not. They’re not really diagnosing the problem and getting to the heart of what you really need.
An open dialogue helps ensure that both parties are staying on top of the project, and are setting clear and reasonable expectations of how the project will go.
Customers and contractors both have to be fair with one another, and your expectations have to be realistic and at the end of the day, it’s in the contractor’s best interest, to be honest, and trustworthy because he wants you to recommend him to other potential clients.
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