1. Do you have a contractor's license? A licensed contractor must meet certain requirements to obtain a license, generally providing you with the assurance that he or she is capable of completing the work.
2. Do you carry General Liability and Worker's Compensation Insurance? The last thing you need is a worker getting injured while working on your property and wanting your homeowner's insurance to pay for those injuries.
3. How long have you been in business? Look for a company with an established business history in your community. Surviving in any business in today's competitive marketplace is a difficult task. Most successful contractors are proud of their history and their background and will be happy to tell you about it.
4. Who will be supervising my project and how often will they be there? It is important to know who is managing your project and how experienced they are. In many cases, the experienced member of a company that you signed the contract with will rarely visit your job site again, leaving all the details to less experienced workers.
5. Have you had liens placed on any previous projects and why? Sometimes homeowners pay their contractor, but the contractor does not pay a subcontractor who worked on your home. When this happens, the subcontractor will place a lien on your property. You want to avoid doing business with companies that have a track record of this happening. Check with previous customers and ask if anything like this occurred on their home. Professional builders and remodelers will have long term relationships with their subcontractors and can work out issues without the homeowner being involved through a lien.
6. Can you provide references? Ask the contractor to provide you with names and phone numbers of former clients. Be sure to call them. If possible, visit some of the contractor's previously completed jobs.
7. What percentage of your business is repeat or referral business? This will give you a good indication of the company's customer satisfaction. According to research conducted by NARI (National Association of the Remodeling Industry), most remodeling businesses attribute over 50% of their annual volume to referrals; some even claim up to 90% or more of their annual sales.
8. Are you a member of of your local home builders association and abide by the National Association of Home Builders Code of Ethics? Contractors who are members of these organizations are more involved in their industry and meet higher standards as part of their membership.
9. Do you offer an approved Limited Warranty? Check to see if the contractor has a written warranty. Many times the local home builder's association will have a helpful documented warranty for its members to use.
10. What is the time frame for my project? Now is the time to ask questions about work schedules. You should ask: What is the estimated completion time? How early will your workers show up in the mornings? What time will they quit? Will I be contacted about changes to the schedule? by whom?
Finally, there are some things you should be asking yourself while interviewing potential contractors? Can I trust this person? Do they seem to care about what they are doing? Are they qualified? Are they organized? Also, be prepared yourself by having a detailed set of plans and written specifications so that the contractor know exactly what is required of him or her.
Building a new home or remodeling an existing home can be a very pleasant and rewarding experience when dealing with the right contractor.
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