Anyone who’s ever owned a home knows how hard it can be to find a good home contractor. In fact, choosing a home contractor for your remodeling project is one of the toughest things you can do as a homeowner, especially if you’re new to the area. These days, home contractors are a dime a dozen. They seem to be multiplying almost more than lawyers and Elvis impersonators. So how do you find a good one? How do you prepare yourself to even begin interviewing prospective contractors, and how do you know if you’re about to hire a bad one? Here’s a list of home remodeling questions to prepare yourself with when searching for the home contractor who’s ready to do the best job for you and your house.

Get referrals

Talk to family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, business colleagues, anyone you know you can trust about their experiences with home contractors. You’re looking for people who’ve had similar work done on their homes. Word of mouth is the most powerful and trusted resource you have, especially if you have friends, family, and colleagues you trust and who know what they’re talking about when it comes to home remodeling questions and home remodeling projects.  Additionally, consider looking into online review sites such as Angie’s List.

Conduct phone interviews

Once you’ve got your list of prospective home contractors together, get on the phone and start making your phone calls. Make a short list of questions to ask on your phone interviews. You’re not looking to spend a lot of time talking with each home contractor. You just need to know a few basics at this stage of the game. Consider the size of your home remodeling project, and ask if they take on jobs that size. Ask if they’ll provide financial references, as you want to know that your money isn’t going to go to some other client’s project. Ask how long they’ve been in business. Ask if they will get all necessary permits, or if you need to do that. (Additionally, make sure you ask the contractor you hire what permits are needed, and have them show you the permits they’ve obtained.) Finally, ask how many other projects they’ll be working on at the same time they’re working on yours. From these answers, narrow your list down to 3 or 4 of your best options.

Do your homework

Before you hire anyone, do some research. Check to be sure that all the home contractors you’ve chosen for your final- stage, face-to-face interviews have all current licenses and are knowledgeable in the home remodeling project you’re having done. Consider even asking some home remodeling questions, just to be sure they know their craft. Make sure to get references from each contractor, and always follow up with those references.

Conduct in-person interviews

Now it’s time to meet all your prospective hires face-to-face. By all means, do not skip this stage and go straight from phone interviews to hiring someone. The reason for this is that you want to make sure you’re comfortable with the person or people who’ll be working for you. Remember, they are working for you; not the other way around. You need to feel at ease with their personalities, and you need to be able to communicate face-to-face with them. Get bids from all of them at this point, so you can weigh your options against your project and your budget.

Put details in writing

Now it’s time to get it in writing. Draw up a contract that includes details of all stages of the project. Include specific materials to be used, expected payment schedule, start date, and completion date. Additionally, if length of the project is vital, when negotiating and drawing up a contract, be sure to add the words ‘time is of the essence’ on the contract. This way, your home contractor will know not to exceed time allotted.

Home contractors are everywhere these days. It seems that just about anyone can call themselves a home contractor, regardless of their capabilities or training. Some folks call themselves home contractors just ’cause they have an expensive set of tools and a flashy business card. So what do you do when one of them flashes that impressive business card at you and asks to handle your next home remodeling project? Like most things, you equip yourself with knowledge. Set up a list of questions before you begin interviewing any prospective home contractor. Keep a list of the answers and check off those that don’t meet your standards as you go. With this list of questions, you can keep a running tally of answers and find the best home contractor to suit your needs.

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