Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Contractor

If you’re a homeowner or plan to be, it is likely that at some point you will need to hire a contractor to help you complete a project. Whether it is a new kitchen or a complete home remodel, make sure you do your research ahead of time and ask these important questions to any competing bidders.

Have you ever done business under a different name?

Well that seems like a strange question, doesn’t it? It is however, an important one. Operating the same type of business under a different name is often a sign that the business was shut down for shady practices, such as requiring that jobs be paid upfront and then disappearing before the work was completed. When in doubt, check with the Better Business Bureau and the Department of Public Safety for your protection.

What is your license number and may I have a copy of your insurance policy?

In most states, a contractor must register with the state in order to do business. Having a contractor’s license number allows you to verify whether or not any claims or judgments have been passed against them. Most contractors will have coverage, but it may not be enough to cover your property. Make sure that they do carry insurance, but also what kind and how much. If the contractor is not properly insured with worker’s compensation, you could be liable for any accidents or injuries that happen to the crew.

Would you please itemize your bid, and is this an estimate or a fixed quote?

Many contractors prefer to give you a bottom-line price for your project, but this puts you in the dark about what they’re charging for each aspect of the job. Itemized bids make it easier to compare competing bids. It also might become valuable documentation should any disputes arise later on. Some contractors treat their bids as estimates, meaning bills could wind up being higher in the end. Be sure to request a fixed price bid instead.

I would like to meet the job foreman and visit a current site he’s running.

Many contractors don’t actually swing hammers. They spend their days bidding for new work and managing. That makes the job foreman, the one who’s working on your project every day, the most important member of your team. Meeting the foreman in person, on-site will give you an idea if the project is running smoothly or not.

Going through a remodel is stressful enough without having to worry about your contractor so protect yourself by asking these important questions.

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