Questions to ask prospective contractors before making your choice

When you decide you want to make changes to your home, you will need to find a qualified contractor to do the job. Minor improvements can be tackled on your own, but anything more complex should be handled by a professional. To find someone who can handle the upgrades you have in mind, you need to conduct interviews before hiring the right contractor for your home. There are some important questions to include in your interviews with the contractor. First, ask them if they have workers’ compensation insurance and general liability insurance. You want to make sure that your contractor and your employees are fully covered if the unexpected happens. Also make sure they are responsible for any damage done to your home.

Ask your potential contractors what their time frame would be for a given project. While they may not be able to tell you exactly how long the job will take, they should be able to include a time frame in their estimate. Installing new windows or carpets can take less than a full day. Making structural changes can take a certain number of months. Ask them to give you a worst-case estimate, so you and your family know exactly how long the inconvenience in your home may last. Also ask your contractor to include the time frame in the official estimate so you have some assurance that the job won’t take much longer than expected.

As for estimating, don’t let it be the most important part of your interview. While you want a great price on your upgrades, you may not want to go for the cheapest ones available. Local businesses sometimes offer services for much less than national options, so if you want to save money and help local business owners, talk to several in your area about the project. You can often find a reputable company that is much smaller than national companies and get a great deal and specialized service on a product that is just as good.

Ask your contractor if he has done the work you want done in the past. If they have experience with a project similar to yours, your project is more likely to run smoothly. There are contractors who can take on new jobs without a hitch and learn as they go, and there are contractors who still make mistakes on the job that they have done a million times. However, if you are going to err on the side of caution, work with someone who is familiar with your type of work.

Lastly, ask your contractor for references. You should be able to speak with past clients about the performance and quality of your contractor’s work. Obviously, the contractor will provide you with the names of the happiest clients, so consider checking with organizations like the Better Business Bureau as well. They can refer you to clients of all varieties and provide you with the research they have done on potential contractors.

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