How do you know which contractor is right for your project? Will he or she be able to complete your project on time and on budget? How long will it take and will your family be safe? Will the contractor keep my home clean and protect my belongings? These are just some of the questions that run through the minds of many homeowners when preparing to hire a contractor to repair or remodel their home. So, how do you know which contractor is right for you? Like anything else, in order to make a knowledge based decision you need to gather data that helps you with the decision making process. Learning to interview your contractor will help you decide which contractor is right for you. Understand that not all contractors are a good fit for you and you are not a good fit for just any contractor. To determine who the best fit will be for your project consider integrating the following questions into your meeting when interviewing contractors.
1. Are you licensed and is your company fully insured?
If the contractor balks or tries to dodge this question, mark him or her off your list.
A contractor is required to possess a Georgia contractor’s license if the company is performing multiple disciplines and and business license for his or her place of business. A contractor who fails to hold insurance puts your family and home at risk. Make sure that in the event of an accident or damage to your home that your home owners policy won’t be the one on the hook for the costs.
2. How long have you been in business?
If the contractor you are meeting with hasn’t been in business at least 5 years you will have to be more diligent. Company’s who have been in business a minimum of 5 years have established themselves in their community and have a number of clients in their
database you can reach out to for info regarding performance, quality and service.
3. Do you possess any certifications or belong to any professional associations?
A contractor who is invested in his business understands the value of networking, continueing education, and acquiring certifications. The contractor who won’t invest in his or her business conveys that he or she isn’t committed in providing you the best possible experience.
4. How many projects similar to mine in scope have you performed over the last two years?
Experience is everything and key to a successful renovation. It is important that the contractor you are considering for the project has performed multiple projects similar to yours. Don’t let the contractor cut his or her teeth on your project.
5. How do you charge?
Getting a fixed price for your project means there are no surprises. A contractor who charges on a time and material basis may overlook or under estimate certain areas of the project which can lead to you incurring more cost than you were anticipating.
6. Can we speak to your past clients?
A contractor who has a list of happy clients is glad to have you speak or meet with them. Look out for the the contractor who lacks references or doesn’t provide you with numbers and addresses to reach the past clients on his or her list.
7. Can we please visit a couple of your projects?
Physically visiting a past project or two is a great way for you to understand the level of quality the contractor delivers. Don’t just speak to a past client, schedule to meet with them and visit their home to review ongoing or completed work. Beware of the contractor who won’t let you visit a project.
8. What type of payment schedule do you use?
Make sure the contractor can produce the project on billings based on percentage of work completed. Secure a copy of a draw schedule for a project of your size and type and never issue a large deposit or payment up front. A contractor who can’t fund your renovation while work progresses can lead to an abandoned project or liens.
9. Who will be managing our project?
Determine if the contractor has someone who will manage subcontractors, coordinate delivery of materials, perform quality assurance inspections and manage your stress for the duration of the project. Make sure you have a manager on site and not just a technician.
10. How do you handle call backs?
Many contractors fail to offer their clients a well written warranty program. Make sure you know what is covered and not covered under your warranty and what steps you need to take to address a defective item or workmanship. Don’t consider hiring the contractor who can’t provide a a copy of the company’s warranty program and process.
These 10 simple questions can help you separate the wheat from the chaff when interviewing contractors. Don’t just pick the contractor with the cheapest price, make sure you select the contractor who will be the best fit and provide the best value. Don’t blindly rely on online reviews, the reviewer home, quality standards, expectations, and budget may be dramatically different from yours. What works for your neighbor may not necessarily work for you.
NARI Atlanta professionals adhere to a Code of Ethics and have access to education, programs, and trade events that continually hone their business skills. Choose a NARI professional for your next project.