What should you ask a contractor before hiring?

Hey there! If you are planning on hiring a renovation contractor, here’s a list of potential questions to ask before you hire.

Remember, the more you get to know your potential contractor before you hire them, the greater the chance of your complete satisfaction.

Take your time and never skip this part!

GENERAL QUESTIONS

If you’re already somewhat familiar with renovation contractors, or dealt with a contractor from any other field, feel free to skip ahead. More in-depth questions to ask before you hire.

However, if this is new territory for you, it’s important not to overlook basic issues during your conversations.

Our motto: ‘Ask Before You Hire’

1. how long have you been in business?

That should be obvious: experience matters. Depending on the scope of the project, you might want to seek more experienced contractors.

However, if you just want to replace a socket, contractors with less experience may not be a bad choice at all.

2. Can you provide references from past clients?

While reviews are usually enough, if you are planning a large project, you might want to ask for references from clients who have had similar projects done. 

3. Are you licensed and insured?

Proper licensing ensures the contractor meets local regulations and standards. Insurance protects you from liability in case of accidents or damage during the project.

This is the most important question you should ALWAYS ask before you hire your contractor.

If you want to know which documents to look for, check our guide on licenses & certifications

4. Do you have experience with projects similar to mine?

Specific experience ensures the contractor understands the nuances of your project type, whether it’s a kitchen remodel, bathroom renovation, or another specialty area.

Custom-designed media wall | Bespoke Furniture by Sweet Homes Edinburgh
Sweet Homes Edinburgh | Custom-designed media wall

Project-Specific Questions

Now we are diving into more in-depth questions.

Depending on the scale, type, and your personal requirements for your project, the answers to these questions might vary. However, there are some general red flags that you should look out for.

1. What is the estimated timeline for my project?

A clear timeline helps set expectations and allows you to plan around the renovation work.

Keep in mind that the nature of renovation and construction work often makes it difficult to meet deadlines. However, what’s important is:

  • What caused the delay
  • How the cause is being handled
  • Is there any compensation

Be reasonable and expect the same in return.

2. Can you provide a detailed written estimate?

A detailed estimate helps you understand the costs involved and compare bids from different contractors. It should include labour, materials, permits, and other expenses. 

Never feel pressured to pay for something you didn’t wanted in the first place (as long as it’s not necessary for other work).

Mind that estimates might often differ from actual costs, but the mismatch should not exceed reasonable amounts.

**If there are any unclear expenses you do not understand, never hesitate to contact the contractor for clarification.**

3. What is your payment schedule?

Understanding the payment schedule helps you manage your finances and ensures there is a clear agreement on when payments are due.

**Be cautious of contractors asking for large upfront payments.**

4. How do you handle unexpected issues or changes in the project?

Renovations often uncover unforeseen problems. Knowing how the contractor deals with these issues can prevent disputes and ensure smooth progress.

Unfortunately, you can rarely be sure whether the contractor will handle problematic situations well. While a well-written agreement can offer some protection, some stress is probably inevitable.

Work Process Questions

5. What is your daily work schedule?

Understanding the contractor’s work schedule helps you plan your day and minimizes disruptions to your routine.

6. How will you protect my property during the renovation?

If you ask before you hire, there’s a lower chance you’ll be unpleasantly surprised. Protection of your home from dust, debris, and damage are a crucial part of any professional contractor.

These are more physical means of protection as compared to the legal agreements. Make sure your contractor is using protective measures adequate to the work performed.

Wall-mounted bookshelf | Joinery and Carpentry by Sweet Homes
Sweet Homes Edinburgh | Wall-mounted bookshelf in progress

7. What is your policy on clean-up?

This somewhat corresponds with the previous point. A clean worksite is safer and less stressful.

Knowing who is responsible for daily clean-up and final clean-up after the project is completed, guarantees peace of mind.

Communication and Warranty

8. How will we communicate throughout the project?

Establishing preferred methods and frequency of updates helps keep everyone on the same page. 

You might also want to ask your contractor to send you some photos of the throughout process if it’s a larger project. This provides additional documentation for you whether something goes south.

9. Do you offer a warranty on your work?

The general rule is that a warranty should be written in plain language, avoid ambiguity, and be easily understandable.

Note that bigger firms might use a lot of legal language to leave a backdoor for voiding your potential claims.

Learn more about construction warranties

10. Can you provide a list of subcontractors who will work on the project?

Knowing who will be involved ensures that you can check if all workers are qualified and reputable. 

Additionally, sometimes contractors might hire a subcontractor without your knowledge to perform work that is outside the scope of their services. This allows them to take a cut of the payment, which you might not agree to if you were aware.

To sum up, these are the questions that without much effort will tell you a lot about your potential contractor. Ask before you hire and save yourself a lot of stress and nerves.

In the meantime, we’re excited to present ourselves as your potential contractor.

Feel free to explore something about us and our services to determine if we’re the perfect ‘match’ for your needs. If so, feel free to reach out to us via your preferred method of contact.

Looking forward to hearing from you soon!