10 Things To Ask Your Contractor Before You Sign


Hiring the right contractor for your project can be an overwhelming task. But it doesn’t have to be a stressful experience. By asking a few important questions, you can find the right contractor who can get the job done right. Here are ten great questions you should ask before you hire a contractor.

1. How long have you been in this industry?

Experience shouldn’t be the only factor in choosing your contractor. But, a contractor with a reasonable amount of experience might offer a better experience.

A seasoned contractor is more likely able to handle unexpected issues better. Nothing beats a proven track record and hands-on experience.

2. Are you licensed?

Hiring a licensed contractor is just a good idea all the way around. This can protect you from becoming a statistic when it comes to renovation nightmares. Licensing requirements can vary by community. Make sure to verify your contractor’s information with local authorities.

3. Are you insured?

You’re going to want to ask about a couple of different types of coverage here. Of course, no contract will begin a project with the intentions of breaking something. But, unexpected things can always happen. If something is broken or damaged, your contractor’s liability insurance will cover all costs of repairs.

Workman’s comp insurance is also important. If one of your contractor’s employees get injured, you could end up paying their medical bills. Workman’s comp insurance will protect you from any responsibility.

4. Can you provide references?

Any reputable contractor will be happy to provide a list of references for you to contact. Talking with previous clients is a great way to vet any potential contractor. This can let you know how well your contractor communicates and stays on schedule.

6. Do you offer a transparent contract?

In order to fully protect yourself from potential issues in the future, it’s important to request a transparent contract. As a homeowner, you want to make sure you understand your contractor’s intentions and understand everything clearly. This should include:

  • exactly what work the contractor will perform
  • anticipated time frame for the project to complete
  • itemized list of materials needed and the cost
  • “time and materials” contract
  • who handles permits

It’s important to have a clear outline of who is responsible for what. Your contract should also spell out what happens if these responsibilities aren’t met.

7. Will you include a termination clause in your contract?

This type of addition to the contract offers protection for both parties involved. This agreement allows either one of you to end the contract based on pre-arranged terms.

For example, if you stop paying the contractor, or the contractor stops showing up for work, the other party can end the contract without penalty.

8. Do you offer any guarantees?

You wouldn’t buy a refrigerator without a warranty, so why hire a contractor who won’t guarantee their work? You want to choose a contractor who is willing to offer a guarantee for two types of situations. Defective materials and workmanship issues. Of course, get everything in writing. This should include:

  • what your contractor will cover
  • how long coverage will last
  • what will be done fix issues

9. What is the payment schedule?

This can differ from contractor to contractor. Most are willing to offer a variety of options to suit your situation. However, you should never pay the entire amount up front. A reasonable down payment should be expected. You should only make final payment once the job is finished and you are completely satisfied.

10. What is the work schedule?

A reputable contractor should be able to provide specific hours you should expect work to be conducted. Make sure to be specific, for instance, 9-5 with a 1-hour lunch break, Monday through Friday. If a contractor can’t give you a detailed schedule, this could be a red flag.

11. Who will supervise the project?

If your contractor won’t be supervising your project, you want to know who is in charge. If something isn’t going according to plan, you need to know who to talk to. Be sure to follow up with a secondary question and ask how often your contractor will be providing you with updates.

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