Whether you are trying to remodel a section of the house or build a new home for your expanding family on a piece of land you have invested a fair deal of money in, you will likely need to hire a general or building contractor for the job. The problem is, how do you know that the person you are hiring is up for the job? Should you risk it and go with the contractor who has the lowest quotation?
The answer would have to be a big no unfortunately, because the lure of lower prices is a strong one, but it is also a recipe for disaster when it comes to building a new home or renovating a piece of property. Cheap is equal to poor materials, poor workmanship and low future value in the real estate market. Instead of relying on how cheap the quote is, you should rely on your intelligence and ask the following four questions before hiring the contractor.
Do You Have Experience?
This one is as straightforward and as common as it gets when it comes to questions that any professional should be asked in advance. A simple query about the contractor’s experience will reveal a lot of facts, such as the professional’s record, for instance. A good contractor will be able to boast of their experiences and use this question as a way to market the company.
Expect experienced contractors to pounce on this opportunity to tell you about their previous projects and even give you the contact details of the previous clients so that you can contact them on your own and ask about the job they did. Not that inexperienced contractors are bad at their job mind you, but without sufficient real-life experience, there is always that element of risk which endangers your own investments in the project, as well as the safety of the property itself.
Relevant experience is also a key point to be considered here, because if you are hiring someone with vast knowledge and experience in kitchen remodeling to install siding on your home’s exterior, it just doesn’t make any sense!
Hire a contractor with experience in the specific work that you want them to handle. For example, GVD Renovations are one of the most well reputed renovators in Sacramento and the Bay area, but they exclusively cater to the installation of sidings, floors, patio covers and windows for years now. You can find more about GVD Renovations and the services they offer in the region by visiting their official website. Similarly, you want someone in your area who has experience in handling the kind of project which you have in mind.
Do You Have All the Contractor’s Licenses Necessary in the State?
It should seem like a mundane question, right? After all, if a profession requires licensing, then how can the company not have it and claim to be a contractor at the same time? Well, it’s because in the US, this is a complicated affair to say the least!
Not all states require contractors to have licenses, while others do. New York, Pennsylvania, Kansas, Missouri, Colorado, Florida, Louisiana and a number of other states have regulations and checks in place, but they do not make it mandatory for contractors to possess a license.
On the other hand, some states make it mandatory to have a license if the general contractor is handling a project that’s worth at least $50,000 or more. In the state of Mississippi, if the renovation or building costs touch or exceed $100,000, the contractor will be required to have a building contractor’s license, which is different from the general contractor’s license. States such as Mississippi and Alabama even make it mandatory to have a special type of license if the renovations hit the $10,000 mark, but stays below the $50,000 mark. In North Carolina, the renovation or construction project must be worth less than $30,000 in order for the contractor to not require an operating license in the state. In order to conduct any renovations that involve plumbing, roofing or electrical work in Illinois, the contractor will require a license, irrespective of the associated expenses.
This is just an introduction to the complicated requirements system for contractors in the country and how widely it varies from state to state. To clear out some of the confusion, check this post on the subject that details most of the states and their specific licensing requirements for contractors, so that both you and your contractor can be sure of everything needed in order to operate within the state’s jurisdiction without breaking any of the rules.
Do You Have Insurance?
A contractor who doesn’t have insurance to protect the business, the employees and their customers is just not worth doing business with, because you might end up getting sued, or be left with an uncompensated and damaged home because of that poor decision.
Ask them to show the certificates as proof of the fact that they at least have workers’ compensation insurance, personal liability insurance and property damage insurance.
How Long Will You Take to Complete It?
This is important, and unless you get a deadline that they are willing to put their signature on, don’t deal with them. There will likely be room for extension in the contract, as is expected in this business, but on failing to deliver, the legal consequences should benefit you, because technically, they are wasting your time and money by going beyond the stipulations of the previously agreed upon deadline.
You may also have questions regarding other aspects of the project and the materials they will use. Don’t skip on any of those either and by the end of the interview, you should be able to tell whether you did just question the right person or not.
In case you didn’t like the answers, don’t hire the contractor and instead take your questions to the next person. Even if you found a contractor for the project who seemed to fair well while answering the questions, it might be a good idea to interview a few more companies while you are at it, just to see if you are missing out on anything.