Smart homeowners know that when it’s time to select a remodeling professional to work on their home, they can’t simply call the first company they find in the phone book or online. And while images of a remodeler’s work can give you a good idea of their quality and style, there’s more to choosing the right contractor than looking at gorgeous pictures.
You really want to select a remodeler with whom you’re comfortable. You want to make sure he or she has the skills, the experience and the expertise to deliver what you want. And you really want to be working with someone you know will listen to you and be able to take your wishes and ideas and turn them into reality.
Frankly, the only reliable way to do that is to sit down and talk to a remodeler and ask questions that will reveal those kinds of things. But what kind of questions will provide you with the information you need to make a good choice?
Here are some questions to help you get started:
- How long have you been in business?You’ll want to select a well-established company;longevity indicates that they’ve been successful and they’ll be around to finish the job. It also lets you know that they have established relationships with other businesses in the area, so you can have peace of mind that your project won’t get held up by a lack of materials or an inability to find subcontractors.
- Can you provide me with references?You’ll want current references (within the last 12 to 18 months) that reflect projects of a similar nature to yours. You don’t want a contractor who will be getting in over his head.
- Can you provide proof of liability insurance? Make sure the contractor you choose has at least a $1 million limit.
- Can you provide a certificate of workers’ compensation?You may think this should be the remodeler’s responsibility (and it should be), but you don’t want to be held responsible if someone is injured on the job at your home. It’s also evidence of a contractor’s legitimacy (something that, unfortunately is sometimes an issue in Florida).
- Will you provide me with a written contract ahead of time so I can review it? This should be standard procedure, but you need to ask to protect yourself.
- What exactly will be included in the price?You don’t want any surprises down the road. Make sure the price includes everything. (This is a good time to ask about how the remodeler handles change orders).
- Do you have a written warranty?You’ll want to get a copy and review it to make sure you understand exactly what is covered.
- Who will be the team leader on my project? Ask specific questions about this person (such as how long this person has been with the company) and ask if the company does background checks and drug testing.
- Who will be my point of contact during the project? It’s essential that you have a single point of contact so that you can get information quickly.
- How do you handle the color selection process?Choosing the right color is often more difficult than homeowners think. Find out if the contractor provides an interior designer or if you’ll be on your own.
- Describe your cleanup process both during and at the end of the project. Nobody likes living with a mess during a remodel. And it’s absolutely not acceptable to be left with a mess at the end. It’s part of the job!
You may have other questions that you want to ask a remodeler, but these will at least get you going in the right direction. If you’re not comfortable with the answers you get—or if the contractor you’re talking to is evasive, that’s a good sign that you need to keep looking.