If you are considering doing a home renovation this year, the process really begins with choosing the right contractor for the job. While they may have the expertise, you are the boss of the job. It is important that you have faith in their abilities and generally like them before you begin this journey together.
Getting quotes from a few contractors and asking the right questions to a prospective contractor will help you make the best choice:
What are your References?
Their past customers are your best sources for information, so don't be afraid to ask a potential contractor if you can speak with them. Ask questions about deadlines, work ethic, reliability and overall satisfaction. Also check online reviews, google them, look at Yelp, Angie's list, Home Advisor and their Facebook page.
Can you give me an itemization of the charges?
Having an detailed list will help you identify areas where you can make changes to save some money. An overall price estimate will not enable you to compare costs and you won't know what exactly you are being charged for.
Do you have a license? Are you insured and bonded?
Most states require contractors to pass an exam and take annual education courses to maintain a current license; insurance covers employees. That way, if someone gets hurt on the job, the company's insurance covers the medical bills. Otherwise, an injured worker could come after you, the homeowner, to foot the bill. A surety bond is liability for you in case the contractor doesn't finish the job or goes out of business.
Will you handle any permits needed?
Permits are required for most professional remodeling jobs. This certifies that a building inspector has evaluated the project and approves it. Check with your town hall regarding what permits will be needed for your project. Be suspicious of contractors who are willing to work without permits!
What is the approximate schedule?
Work together to decide estimate beginning and end dates. If you need the project finished by a certain date, make it clear upfront. Unexpected problems often arise and projects usually take longer than estimated. In addition, there are things contractors won’t definitely know until they begin a project and see what is behind a wall or floor. Buffer in a little more time for the unforeseen setbacks.
Who is actually executing the work?
Is the contractor doing the actual work, or someone else? If the general contractor will not be doing the work, you can to ask to ask if you can meet that person before the job begins and if they are as qualified as the contractor. You should know who is going to be in your house and doing the work at all times.
Can I have all these details in writing?
All details should be incorporated into the contract, such as payments, time frame, materials needed, and other essential points. You must have a signed contract before any money is exchanged.
Above all you are the customer and should feel comfortable with your contractor. If something seems not right, follow your instincts and find someone else to do the job.