Before you work with any contractor, there are a few questions that you should ask. I would highly recommend that you speak with multiple contractors before you make a final decision on who to get to do the work on your home. Your home is a place that you treasure and the contractor you choose should feel the same way.
1. How Long Have You Been In Business?
When you work with contractors that have been in business for a long time (5+ years or more), these companies have often worked through the growing pains. They are not learning the simple lessons that everyone has to go through when they start their contracting business.
According to Ken Kelly, President of Kelly Roofing in Naples, Florida, “Companies with experience have created systems and controls to ensure their work is on time, on budget and of the highest quality.”
While the above statement is true, you may be one of the people that decides to work with someone who has years of experience but has recently started their own business. Many times you will find people who have contractor experience, but have only recently branched off from the company they had been working with to start their own venture. This means they have the technical experience, but they may not have the higher prices or the backed up schedule many contractors suffer from.
If you still aren’t sure which contractor you want to work with, start them off with a small project, see if you are satisfied and graduate the relationship to the next level. Before you meet with any contractors, you should do your research ahead of time. If you find anything online or otherwise that makes you question their abilities, ask them about it when you meet and give them the opportunity to address any concerns that you have.
2. Do You Have Your Contractor’s License?
While it may be tempting to hire a handy man without a contractor’s license because they are less expensive, when you are looking at liability and reliability, you need to make sure you go with someone that does have a contractor’s license.
Cities, states and counties often have different requirements as to whether contracts have to get a license or if there are other credentials that are required. You need to make sure that anyone that is working on your house as gone through the required training and has gotten the required credentials. You also want to make sure that any credentials they show you are related to the work they are going to be doing for you. For instance, if you are hiring someone to work on the roof, a carpentry license isn’t going to do any good.
Also, having a business license is not enough. While it does allow an individual to operate a business, it does not mean they are licensed or that they are a credentialed contractor. If you want to check to see what the requirements for your area are, you can use this resource to find out more.
3. What is Our Completion Timeline?
Whether you contractor is building a porch, putting in bay windows or fixing the stairs, it is important to make sure that he or she gives you a completion timeline. While you may not be able to legally force them to finish the project on this timeline, you will at least know what their plans are and you will know that they are responsible enough to make a completion timeline.
Make sure to find out if they are working on other projects that may affect the schedule of the work the contractor is doing on your project. You should also ask if they have any bids in on other projects that might interfere with the work they will be doing for you. Also find out how they will address any changes to the timeline. Will they notify you and keep in good communication?
Being able to communicate with your contractor as well as set proper expectations and guidelines before the job starts is going to ensure that you have a project that goes as smoothly as possible. You will also know mostly what to expect so you can plan around the construction that will be going on at your home.
4. What Is Our Payment Schedule?
Ah, yes, money. It is important to get a clear understanding of how you are going to pay the contractor. According to the Better Business Bureau, you should never pay full price for a contracting job before it is finished. If you are working with a contractor that is reputable, you aren’t going to be asked to pay everything upfront. You should more than likely be paying on specific dates or when certain stages of a process have been finished.
The more you know about how much you are going to pay and what you are going to pay, the more prepared you can be when it comes time to put the money out. You may even want to draw up a contract between you and the contractor if they do not have one already.
If you have further questions, make sure that you ask them and don’t feel like you should simply trust anyone. A true business professional will understand that you have concerns and will be more than happy to put your mind at ease.
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