Hiring A Contractor – Questions You Need To Ask
Guest Blogger: Rachel Porter
As exciting as building a new home or improving your existing one is, it's also very challenging. And this is why you need a contractor – to oversee things, so you have less to worry about. The contractor you pick can make or break your project. There are many contractors out there, but not all of them will give you the results you desire. You have to make sure that the person you hire knows what he or she is doing, and has contractor insurance above all else. Before you pay a contractor thousands of dollars to build or remodel your home, ask them these questions first and see if their answers make sense to you.
Are you licensed?
In some states, contractors are not required to obtain a license to operate. But for your own safety, it is recommended that you only work with a licensed professional.
To be sure that the contractor you’re dealing with is (indeed) licensed, ask for a copy of their license, check the validity, and verify the details with the issuing authority.
What kind of insurance do you have?
Working with a contractor who does not have insurance may spell trouble for you in case something unfortunate happens while they’re working on your property.
The contractor you hire must have at least three types of insurance: personal liability insurance, a worker’s compensation insurance, and a property damage insurance. These policies do not only protect you and free you from any liabilities; they also safeguard the welfare of the employees.
Though this may make you look skeptical, don’t forget to check the actual certificates of insurance. It’s better to be sure than sorry.
How long have you been in business?
Nobody can’t tell for sure that experienced contractors will do a better job than newer ones. It’s safe to say, however, that contractors with more years in the industry are more familiar with the ins and outs of the business. Someone who has dealt with different construction site problems in the past is more likely to handle issues better than those who are still learning the ropes.
This is an appropriate follow-up question to the previous one. There is no better way to find out about a person or company's work than talking to people they have worked with before.
When they give you a list of references, call each one. Ask about how it was like working with this contractor – their competence, the quality of the job, and the timeliness of the project.
Don’t be embarrassed to ask a lot of questions. When you get most (if not all) of your queries answered, you’ll feel more confident about your decision.
Can you tell me more about the process?
When it comes to projects as expensive as this, you need to know what you’re in for to avoid conflicts and surprises down the road.
A good and reliable contractor should be ready to fill you in about the process, the timeline, the different stages of the project, and what they involve even if you don't know what to ask. If you have any requests or pet peeves, this would also be a suitable time to bring them up. The working environment will be infinitely better when everybody is on the same page.
Do you give written warranties?
You’re never 100% sure that nothing will go wrong after the project is completed -- warranties exist for this reason. In case something fails, you’re assured that the contractor and his team will go back and fix it for you.
It's a good idea to have the warranty in writing, so you have something to hold on to. The contract must contain what aspects of the project is covered and for how long. Typically, warranties include any issues or damages caused by negligence and/or poor workmanship.
Where is your business located?
It may seem a little strange to ask this question, but it's critical especially if you've found your contractor online. You want to vet the person, and knowing the location of his or her business is a good place to start.
As much as possible, work with someone from your area because when something fails or goes wrong after the work is done, you know where to find them.
Don’t hire contractors in a hurry and stay away from low-ballers. If an offer seems too good to be true, it may be because it is.
Shop around, check what other people say about them, and see who can give you the best but reasonable deal. Building or remodeling a home is a big investment; make sure you know exactly who you’re working with.
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Jeff Cook Real Estate
Charleston | Columbia | Greenville