What you want to hear is that they’ve been in business long enough to establish a credible track record of successful work experience.
At the very least you want to know that they’re licensed (and it’s current) and carry worker’s comp and liability insurance to cover any accidents. Being bonded is not a universal requirement, so not all contractors are. Think of bonding as an insurance policy for the homeowner that protects you if the job heads south.
While a verbal guarantee is nice, it offers no guarantees that the contractor will actually stand behind their work. You want a written guarantee that states exactly what is and isn’t covered.
Ratings and reviews are a great resource, especially when coupled with references from previous customers. Ask your contractor to provide a list of references you can contact. Think twice before hiring them if aren’t able to.
Failing to pull the required permits can cost you big time. However, many homeowners are unsure as to what permits they’re required to pull for a project. While you can obtain the permits, you’ll want your contractor to as it indicates that they’re going to stand behind their work and, more important, have the licenses required to pull the permits. If your contractor is hesitant to pull the permits it could be a red flag.
Knowing who will be managing the project is key, especially if your project is large enough to require sub-contractors. If the individual you’re dealing with during the estimate process is not the one who will be managing the project, insist on meeting the project manager so you can get a read on whether or not you’ll feel comfortable working with them.
The nature of construction is often dynamic. Workers get sick, orders get delayed, and weather can cause interruptions. However, an organized contractor should be able to provide you with a work schedule that clearly outlines when the project will start and end, as well as the hours the crew will be working.
Most contractors are self-sufficient enough to bring their own water. However, unless they’re doing a major remodel that necessitates bringing in a port-a-john, there’s a good chance they’ll need to use your facilities. Asking them before the project gets started gives you the opportunity to tell them which bathroom you prefer them to use.
Not surprisingly, many homeowners don’t feel comfortable giving their contractor the keys to their home. In fact, only 16 percent of homeowners we surveyed do so. That being said, unless you plan on staying home during construction, you’re going to need to give your contractor access to your home. Knowing exactly who has the key to your home or your garage access code gives you the peace of mind you need to know your home is safe.
Did you know 53 percent of homeowners we surveyed said one of their primary concerns when hiring a pro is that the pro won’t follow through with their service guarantee? Any contractor worth his or her salt will be willing to write out a contract that spells out the work to be done, the materials to be used, the time frame in which the project will be completed, the project costs, as well as stipulations outlining what will happen if the project becomes more problematic than anticipated (what’s known as a “time and materials” contract). The contract should also include a termination clause that spells out the circumstances in which both parties are allowed to terminate the contract.