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10 Questions You Need to Ask When Hiring a Home Renovation Contractor

Renovating your home can be an amazing project, creating the perfect oasis for relaxing as well as entertaining. But you want to make sure you work with the right renovation contractor to get the results you want. That’s why it’s important to ask the right questions when hiring contractors.

Whether you need a contractor for a small job or a large scale renovation project project, you should ask the right questions. That way, you can make sure you hire the right person or team to work on your house. Keep reading to learn what questions you should ask when hiring a contractor for your home renovation project.


What Experience Does The Contractor Have?

When you hire a home renovation contractor, you should ask about their experience. Consider not only if they have experience working on homes but also if they have done similar projects. That way, you can make sure they have the skills and tools for your renovation.

You can also ask about their specialty, such as painting, roofing, or carpentry. Ask about how long they’ve specialized in that and if they have any necessary licenses. Some states require contractors to have licenses for specific types of projects.

If they’ll bring in any subcontractors, you should also ask about their experience. While you’d hope the main contractor hires experienced people, you never know. If you’re uncomfortable with bringing someone into your home, you should make that clear upfront.

You don’t need to hire the contractor with the most experience. However, you should feel confident about the contractor’s skills. Then, you won’t have to worry if they’ll be able to get the job done or not.


Will You Get Any Necessary Permits?

Depending on the project, you may need a permit, such as if you’re making a structural change to your home. If you don’t get a permit now, it can affect your project timeline, and it can even make it harder to sell your home later on.

You don’t typically need a permit for projects such as painting the interior. However, you will need a permit when adding on to your home, building a deck, or for some electrical or plumbing projects.

If you determine you need a permit, you should ask if the contractor will get the permit for you. You can get the permit yourself, but your contractor may know the right steps. Then, you won’t have to worry about getting a permit.

If your contractor is the one to get the permit, make sure they have it before they start work. That way, you can make sure everything is in order before you begin your project.

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How Long Will the Project Take?

Another important consideration is the project timeline. You should ask your contractor about their current projects and when those will be complete. Be sure to ask about other bids they have and how those could affect your project’s timeline.

Consider asking about a few other things when scheduling the project, such as:

  • Rain
  • Snow
  • Extreme heat
  • Extreme cold
  • When they’re sick
  • When you’re sick

If they can’t work one day, you should know if they will come in on a different day that week to make up the work or if the project will take longer.

You should also ask about making changes to the project timeline. If you need the contractor to take a day or two off, ask if that’s an option. Then, if you get sick, you can stay home and not worry about someone making a lot of noise or otherwise disturbing you.

On the other hand, you should also ask if they’ll work when they feel sick. If you aren’t comfortable with someone sick working in your home, make that clear now. That way, you can adjust the project schedule if necessary.


When Will You Work Each Day?

After you set a timeline for your project, consider your contractor’s work schedule. Think about if you want them to start work earlier or later and when you want them to finish each day. That way, you can make sure they don’t disturb you or others in the house.

You should also ask about how loud their work usually is. Painting can be relatively quiet, whereas home additions will probably be louder when building the new room. The noise level may affect when you want them to start and stop each day.

If you work outside of the house, you should also ask if there will be any time when they need you home. Of course, you should be home to give the contractor the keys when they start. But ask if they will need you to look over any work before the project is over.

You should also ask how big their vehicle is and tell them where or how they can park. Let the contractor know what bathrooms they can use. That way, you’re on the same page.


Will You Have a Team of People?

While a plumber or electrician may be able to complete their jobs alone, some contractors may work with others. You should ask any contractor if they will bring in subcontractors or other employees.

Consider what to ask about if the contractor works with others.

  • Credentials for each subcontractor
  • Liability insurance
  • Workers’ compensation insurance
  • If the same people will work at your house each day

You should know and trust everyone working on the project. Don’t be afraid to ask the contractor to bring their team to meet you before you hire them for the renovation.

A team of people can help speed up a lot of home renovation projects. However, you should make sure that you can trust everyone on the team to protect your house and to stay safe. A Design-Build contractor may be a good option as most services are managed and delivered by a single team, creating a more streamlined process than working with many different sub-contractors.

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How Will You Protect My Belongings?

You may also want to ask what the contractor will do to protect your furniture and other possessions. If you’re hiring a painter, consider if they will move furniture or use tarps when painting throughout your house.

When hiring any contractor, you can also ask if they will cover their shoes when entering your house. That way, they won’t track dirt into the different rooms. You can also ask if you should move items to another room before the contractor starts working.

If you have pets and a backyard with a fence, consider contractors who are working out there. Make sure they know to shut the fence so that your pets can’t get loose. And pets or not, you should also make sure the contractor locks all doors when they leave.

While locking doors isn’t a huge problem if you’re home, it’s still important. Then, you won’t have to worry about being home the entire time your contractor is there working.


Will You Clean Up Each Day?

If the project will take multiple days, you should consider if the contractor will clean up. Cleaning up each day may not be important when working on a new addition. However, it can be important if they’re painting a bedroom or living room you currently use.

Consider how they will clean up and if you may need to clean up yourself. Then, you can still use your home throughout the renovation.

If your contractor charges per hour, consider if they will charge for the cleanup time. And if they do, consider if you can pay for more work hours per day or if you may need to extend the project. That way, you can still afford the work but have a clean home each night.

If the contractor will clean up each day, consider what they will need for that. Painters may need access to a sink to wash their brushes or clean off their tarps. Landscapers may also need a sink to wash off their gloves and gardening tools.


Where Will You Store Supplies?

Another important question for longer renovation projects is storage. Consider if the contractor will store any supplies at your house and, if so, where they will store things. Ask about how much stuff they will keep there and how much space they’ll need.

You should also ask if they plan to store their supplies in the project room. If you’re having them paint your bedroom, think about if you have enough space for brushes, paint cans, and other supplies.

Ask if your contractor plans to use part of your garage for storage. If so, make sure someone can park outside on the driveway during the project. That way, you’ll have enough room to store the supplies without taking up space in your house.

If your contractor will need to move supplies across your house, you should also ask them to do so carefully. That way, they don’t ruin your floors or any other completed parts of your home.

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When Will You Invoice Me?

You should also ask your contractor about invoicing and payments. Make sure you know when the contractor will send you an invoice and how. Some people use paper invoices, while others use a program such as PayPal or QuickBooks for their invoices.

Consider how and when your contractor may invoice you:

  • All upfront
  • Monthly payments
  • All at the end
  • Half upfront and half at the end
  • Something else

You should also ask about the best payment method. Some contractors may prefer you pay by check or cash, and those can be easy for some people. Other contractors may prefer you use a credit card or your PayPal account to pay their invoices.

If you can’t afford to pay the project in full, ask if they accept a payment plan. You can both agree on how much you’ll pay each month so that you can still pay off the project. That way, you can get a good contractor without going over budget.


How Can I Contact You?

Another essential question to ask when hiring a contractor is for their contact information. You should know how and when you can most easily get a hold of them before and during your project.

Consider if you can text them or if you need to make a phone call. Ask if they have an email address that they check and if that’s how you should contact them. Knowing how you can reach your contractor is important in case of any concerns or questions.

You should also ask if they will respond to messages after working hours. Some contractors may have set business hours, so you’ll have to wait until the next day. In that case, ask about emergencies and if they’ll respond more quickly then.

That way, you can reach them if you realize you have a leak or some other issue. You won’t have to wait until the next time your contractor comes to your house to solve small problems.

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How to Choose a Home Renovation Contractor

After you ask a few questions, you may still be unsure if someone is the right home renovation contractor for you. If that’s the case, you should consider their answers and compare them to any other contractors you’re considering.

Then, you can see which contractor has more answers you like. For example, someone could be the perfect fit, but maybe they don’t have much experience. Or maybe they do have a lot of experience, but they charge the full rate upfront, and you don’t have the money for that.

It can be tough to balance everything, so here are a few things to think about after you meet with a contractor.


Consider Your Project

First, think about what you need help with and how big the project is. Consider if the contractor you want to hire has done that work before or if they’ve only done other projects.

For example, perhaps you need someone to paint your ceilings. Maybe you met with a contractor who has painted interior walls, but they’ve hardly worked on ceilings. While they might do a fine job, painting a ceiling can be difficult, so you may want to hire someone else.

You should also consider if you need permits and how you can get them. If a contractor is willing to get the permits for you, that can make things a lot easier. But they may charge you more for that, and you won’t have control over when you get the documentation you need.


Determine Your Ideal Schedule

You should also consider when you want to start and complete the project. Of course, you need to be realistic. But consider a few smaller elements of any renovation project and how that can affect the schedule:

  • The contractor’s work hours
  • The number of contractors
  • Weather, for outside projects
  • If you want to be home while the contractor is there

No two renovation projects will have identical schedules. You should also prepare for schedule changes due to weather or illness. If something does happen, you can make sure your renovation stays on track.

When hiring a home renovation contractor, think about your priorities and make sure you can agree on a schedule with your contractor. That way, you can get everyone done when you want, and you can make sure the project is done well.


Remember Your Budget

Of course, you also have to think about what you can afford. If you find the perfect contractor, they will probably charge a lot for their expertise and value. However, you may be on a tight budget, so you might need to make sacrifices.

If you can’t afford a contractor, you can ask about payment plans. But you may also want to find another contractor who can still do a good job but for a lower rate.

Consider looking for a newer contractor who still has some experience. However, they probably won’t charge as much as someone who has been in business for decades.

Your budget isn’t the most important factor when hiring a renovation contractor, but it does matter. Think about if your budget is flexible or if you can’t pay more than a particular amount. Then, you can negotiate with a contractor if necessary.


Go With Your Gut

Finally, listen to your instincts when hiring a contractor. If someone sounds too good to be true, they probably are. You want to choose the best contractor for you, so you should trust whoever you hire.

Even if everything sounds good, if you don’t like something about the contractor, move on. It’s not worth risking your home or the wellbeing of you or others in your house.

You can find other contractors in the area who can do a good job. They may not have the same prices or experience, but they may be a better fit for you. And you can have the peace of mind that they will take care of your home while they work.


Final Thoughts

When hiring a home renovation contractor, you have to consider your budget, the project scope, and the timeline. Be sure to ask any contractor how they can work within those constraints. The last thing you want is for your contractor not to do a good job or for you to overpay. Keep these things in mind next time you need to hire a renovation contractor.

Element Home Remodeling is a Mountain View, CA based home renovation contractor serving the entire Bay Area. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

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