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Published: March 18, 2011

Ten Question to Ask Before Hiring a Remodeling Contractor

Finally, after much saving and planning and even more saving, you are ready to hire a remodeling contractor to get your dream remodeling project off the ground. Before you take off, however, make sure you are working with the right remodeling contractor. There are a lot of people who call themselves “contractors” out in the world, but their experience can vary drastically.

Choosing your contractor is, without a doubt, the most important decision you will make regarding your remodeling project. Selecting the correct contractor can easily be measured by the final results with how well the space meets your needs, how attractive and enjoyable the space is and whether you feel that you received the very best value for your remodeling investment dollars.

To help you find Mr. Right, below is a handy list of the top ten questions you should ask every contractor you are considering.  The contractor’s answers to these fundamental questions will help you determine if you’re dealing with a professional, if you’re both on the same page about the scope of the project, and if you like the guy (or gal).

1. What is the approximate cost of this project?

Follow up with: How sure are you about this number? What do you see as the maximum amount that could come out of my pocket? In the beginning this should be a cost range and is considered a budget not an estimate.

2. How long will this project take?

Be suspicious if your contractor cannot answer this basic question, or, conversely, if you get an exact date. Expect a scope of time.

3. How long have you been in business, and what are your credentials?

While years in business and/or certifications don’t guarantee quality, they do help weed out the pretenders from those who have the experience and expertise to do your project right. Bad contractors don’t stay in business long, and they usually don’t get certified.

4. Have you ever done a project like this before? Can I see before and after pictures?

5. Do you have references I can contact?

Not only should you ask for references, but you should actually call them. Make sure to ask the reference about how the project was conducted, how communicative the contractor was, if he/she answered questions and listened to concerns, if the project was completed in a timely manner, and if it came in around the original budget.

6. Do you foresee any issues, problems, or cost increases for this project?

Professional remodeling trade groups like NARI and NKBA usually recommend that consumers budget an additional 10% to 15% of the project cost as a contingency fund available for the extras that may come along.

7. Do you have any recommendations on how I can save money on this project?

This question could end up saving you a lot of green. Any experienced contractor should be able to provide you with several cost-saving options for your project.  Look for someone who you feel is sincere with helping you spend your money wisely.

8. What times will your crews be arriving and leaving each day?

A good contractor should be flexible to your schedule. Make sure to communicate any ground rules up front about arrivals and departures. Discuss what door and bathroom they will use, how to work with your pet or elderly parents, tool and material storage, and what manner of communication you prefer.

9. Will there be any safety issues during or throughout the project for me or my family?

Follow up with: what measures will your company take to ensure that me or my family won’t get hurt during the project?

10. What happens if I’m not happy with the outcome of the project?

Your contractor should be able to give you a clear and honest answer about how they deal with dissatisfied customers.

For more information on how to choose the best contractor possible, check out the resources available at the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) website at www.cslb.ca.gov or call (800) 321-CSLB (2752).

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