How to choose a remodeling contractor: 6 questions to ask before signing a contract

Don't get caught up in the excitement of your home remodeling just yet. Take time to choose a professional…
How to choose a remodeling contractor: 6 questions to ask before signing a contract
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Don’t get caught up in the excitement of your home remodeling just yet. Take time to choose a professional remodeling contractor before the first wall comes down or you pick paint colors. You’re making a major investment of both time and money so you want this project to go smooth. Grab a notebook and the phone book. You have some important questions to ask of your potential contractors.

Anytime you start removing walls, cabinets, and appliances, it’s possible to unearth unseen home problems. What happens if your contractor falls through a weak spot in your roof, or his ladder knocks a hole in your kitchen wall? You better hope he is insured. A licensed, bonded and insured contractor is a layer of protection against theft, property damage, and broken contracts.

Go straight to the source, and talk to past customers. Ask if the contractor kept to his schedule, was considerate of the home, and if they would hire the person again. It’s a major decision to choose a remodeling contractor. He will have unhindered access to your home for several days, so it should be someone you, and others, trust.

Don’t get caught up in the bait and switch. Some contractors take on several jobs, and then divvy up the work to other contractors. Ask the potential contractor what work he will do himself. Is he proficient in carpentry, plumbing, and electrical work? Or, will he hire other service providers to do the work. Hiring additional contractors with specific specialties isn’t a negative, but always ask for a list of the additional people and companies that will be working in your home.

Contractors don’t like to promise an exact time schedule for completing a project. Shipments get delayed, weather may hinder the project, or staffing might not work out, leaving the crew without enough hands to complete the day’s tasks. Ask for a timeline of expected progress before you choose a remodeling contractor. Then, ask for updates as the project moves forward.

Some contractors expect to walk into a work site and start the installation. But, if you need to remove old cabinetry, flooring, or walls, you’ll also require a demolition service. When you choose a remodeling contractor, explain the full extent of the project. Some will offer this service, while others expect you to do it yourself or to hire a company that specializes in demolition work.

Both during and after your remodel, there will be dust and packaging left behind. Ask the contractor if they tidy up after each day and if they will offer a builder’s clean after the remodeling is complete. This is when a cleaning crew comes in and wipes down all the new surfaces to remove dust and sanitize the area. This service is especially important when remodeling a kitchen or bathroom.

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