Hiring a contractor for home renovations can be a significant emotional and financial investment. Often, you will meet with them for a consultation before going ahead with the job. This is a good opportunity to ask questions and get an impression of the person you are going to be hiring. Here are 8 good questions to ask your contractor.
1. Do you have references?
Even if a contractor was recommended to you by a friend or family member, you should still ask for references. A contractor should be happy to provide you with a list of former clients as well as some contacts at building material suppliers. This will ensure that past customers have been happy with their work and that they don’t have any significant outstanding debts.
2. Can I see work samples?
It’s always a good idea to ask them to see photos of previous work they have completed. Depending on the size of your job, you may even want to visit a past site and inspect their work first hand. Some contractors will have blogs or websites that showcase their work as well.
Tip: don’t forget to search for them online. Many contractors have websites and some are active on social media.
3. How many other jobs will you be working on?
It is normal for contactors to have several jobs on the go. However, if it seems like they are biting off more than they can chew, you might want to reconsider. Also be wary of contractors who seem to be lacking or desperate for work, especially during the busy summer season. This may suggest issues with past projects.
4. What do you specialize in?
The word “contractor” can mean many different things. It is a good idea to make sure the person you are going to hire has some relevant experience with the job you need doing. For example, if you are replacing your front windows, you may not want to hire a contractor who has only worked on patios.
5. Who will be doing the work?
Don’t be afraid of subcontractors. Professionals know their strengths and weaknesses and should have a good sense of when to bring in a specialist. However, you also deserve to know who is going to be working at your house and when. You don’t want a different contractor every day picking up where the last one left off.
6. What is the cost breakdown?
Before going ahead with any work, you should be clear on the budget. You’ll want to know exactly what all building materials and supplies will cost, the cost of labour and profit margin. If a contractor wants to charge you a flat rate without any explanation, it might mean they are cutting corners or overcharging.
7. How will the payments work?
If a contractor wants you to pay for the whole job up front, run for the hills. Often, they will request a small down payment. This is standard. They may also need you to cover the cost of certain building supplies, depending on the job. The best strategy is to come up with an agreed-upon payment plan as part of the contract. This way, everyone is on the same page.
8. What is your schedule?
You might assume that contractors will be working normal hours, but this may not be the case. It is a good idea to find out exactly when they are going to be working. Renovations can be noisy and messy. You don’t want to be falling asleep to the sounds of drilling and hammering. The neighbours won’t be too impressed either. Find out their schedule and make sure they stick to it.
Getting to Work
If your contractor is able to answer these questions to your satisfaction, chances are they are the right person for the job. Ultimately it comes down to communication. Good contractors will provide you with most of this information without you even having to ask. Beware of any question dodging, uncertainty or ambiguity. You are spending good money and deserve quality work.
If you are getting new JELD-WEN windows or doors from one of our certified dealers, the store will often have its own in-house contractors and installation promotions.
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