Ask these important questions before hiring a contractor for building or remodeling.
Looking over a list of a contractor’s references and their project portfolio is
just the start:
1. HIRING WITHOUT VERIFYING THE REFERENCES
DO I REALLY NEED TO?
If you really want to get the scoop on whether or not a contractor is a right fit for your
new home, rebuild or home improvement project, make it a point to contact former
customers and ask them some important questions about the general contractor’s
quality of work and reliability.
What kind of work did the contractor do for you? Did the reference’s project require a
permit from a local building department or code enforcement agency? Did the contractor
have any trouble obtaining it? No one answer will say more about a contractor’s work
then the customer’s willingness to hire them again. If they aren’t willing to hire the
contractor again, why not? Was there something about the contractor, their crew or the
project that they didn’t like?
If the contractor wasn’t there, was there a crew leader or an employee to answer your
questions or make decisions? Were they pleasant and easy to work with?
2. NOT GETTING INTO THE SPECIFICS
WHY AREN’T WE?
Did the contractor provide adequate written detail in the contract including important
details such as who will be performing the work, what types of materials will be used,
when the project will be started and finished, and how change orders should be
handled? You must ask your contractor how he plans to execute your renovation — is
he doing it all himself or hiring subcontractors? Starting any work without a contract is
risky for all parties. The contract establishes critical elements of the agreement: What is
the scope of work to be done? What price will be paid for that work? What are the time
constraints for completing the work? The key to having a successful project is to have a
well-developed contract that doesn’t leave anything out. Everything from the types of
materials used to the cleanup of the construction site should be included in the contract.
If something goes wrong during any phase of the project, both you and the general
contractor should be able to rely on the terms specified in the contract.
3. NOT CHECKING THE CREDENTIALS AND QUALIFICATIONS
DOES HE REALLY HAVE HIS OWN LICENSE?
Beyond asking a contractor’s references, make sure you know the answers to these key
questions before you hire: Does the contractor carry the proper license if required, as
well as liability and workman’s compensation insurance? You can look up a license
number on the contractor’s state license board for CA: cslb.ca.gov. Ask for proof that
a contractor is licensed, bonded and insured to protect you from liability for property or
4. GOING AHEAD WITHOUT A WRITTEN PROPOSAL
DOESN’T A HANDSHAKE WORK ANYMORE?
Was the contractor hired to provide building a new home, rebuild, a large-scale
remodeling or improvement project, or a smaller one? What was your overall goal for
the project? Commencing work prior to signing a contract can be hazardous, even
when the parties have the best of intentions. The much better practice is to have a
signed, written agreement in place before the performance begins.
When the job is done, you will know if they fulfilled the obligations of the contract. Did
they complete the work on time? If not, why? Did the work passcode inspection?
5. GETTING LURED BY GREAT DEALS
IS THE CHEAPEST BID THE ONE I SHOULD GO WITH?
Something to keep in mind when the job is done. Did your job come in according to
the budget? Did you get the results you expected?
If not, what types of problems or delays affected the overall cost? If the project came in
under budget, did you have to sacrifice anything? (With remodeling, you get what you
pay for). Did the contractor promise to stay in touch with you throughout the project or if
any changes needed to be made? Did he or she keep you apprised of the status of the
project on a regular basis?
If you were given a low bid, the contractor may not keep his promises. Remember, the
the cheapest guy isn’t always the best guy.
One last thing to ask yourself, would you hire this contractor again?
If the contractor used subcontractors, were you happy with them? Were you provided a
lien waiver in the contract to guarantee you wouldn’t be responsible for payments to
subcontractors or material suppliers?
Categorised in: home builders