Home Improvement: 12 Key Questions to Ask Before You Hire a Contractor


home_improvement_contractorSpring is the season for home improvement. The weather is great, and everyone is in a “fix ‘er up” mood. In addition, many sellers consider home improvement before putting their home on the market.

A few small improvements could make a world of difference in selling your home. While major renovations might raise the cost of your home, minor fixes might help it sell faster.

Whether it’s big or small, I strongly recommend hiring a home improvement professional for a variety of jobs: Electrical, structural or even cosmetic. While painting the house might seem like a job you might be able to handle on your own, there is a chance that your time could be better spent elsewhere.

With this in mind, I’ve come up with some key questions to ask your contractor before signing any type of contract with them:

1. Can you show me proof of a license, certification, or associations you belong to? Are you bonded?

2. Will you provide three recommendations?

3. What are your specialties — kitchens, bathrooms, or additions? Are there jobs you don’t like to tackle?

4. Will you secure permits?

5. How much must I pay up front for work? When is the remainder due?

6. Do you have a regular team of subs, or assemble different members?

7. How might we resolve conflicts — will resolution be in the contract?

8. How often will you show up at the job site to check progress?

9. How might I reach you — e-mail, phone, text?

10. What is your typical clean-up schedule — daily or weekly?

11. How long will it take to the complete the job? If the job is not completed on time, will I receive a discount?

12. Will you provide a lien release when work is done?

If the answers to any of the questions aren’t what you were looking for, it’s time to look elsewhere. Finding a good contractor can be tough. If you don’t know where to look, ask a real estate agent. They usually know quite a few!

Have I missed any important questions? Sound off below!

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4 Responses to “Home Improvement: 12 Key Questions to Ask Before You Hire a Contractor”

  1. Zann Palmer Says:

    Thanks, Tisha. That could not have been more timely. My last buyer is looking for a contractor to finish the basement of their new home.

  2. Jim Waddell Says:

    Lien Release: If you do not get one and the materials are billed out to your address, you could be obligated to pay for the materials TWICE, once to your contractor, and another time to the supplier.

    Most renovations take longer than expected and cost more than originally estimated due to unforseen issues and homeowner change requests once the work has begun.

    Do not pay for anything up front. If the contractor does not have the cash flow to handle your job, you might not have the right one.

    What happens when they leave the job half done and walk away?

    • Zann Palmer Says:

      From first-hand knowledge, I can answer your question, Jim. I finished the job myself. Though it took me four times as long, the work got done the way I wanted it done – and I learned a lot…from correcting my mistakes.

  3. Riya Mathur Says:

    Yes very well said, one must set the expectations right so that easier for both sides, Also to add one must agree upon how to handle change orders which arise later due to several unexpected or uncontrolled reasons, Better to write up the same in the contracts you sign for Home improvement, What do you suggest ?

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