5 essential concerns when hiring a contractor

Your home is among your greatest investments. When planning a remodel, don’t jump blindly into a relationship with an unknown contractor. You’ll probably be seeing quite a bit of each other; covering some important points beforehand will help assure a favorable connection and successful completion to your project. Like the dating game, don’t rush into a commitment; ask the right questions and be satisfied with the answers before you bind the deal with a contract.

1. Licensing and insurance: Do not assume your homeowner’s insurance provides sufficient coverage; ask about workers’ comp, liability insurance and vehicle coverages. Feel free to request a copy of the contractor’s insurance certificate to review specifics. You’ll also want to be sure to have full contact information for your chosen contractor including a phone number, email address and the physical and mailing addresses for the office.

2. Company work history: How long has the company been in business? Ask for two or three recent references for jobs of similar scope and call them. Arrange to visit the completed projects for a visual assessment of the quality of the workmanship.

3. Project management: Will the owner be working on site or will you be communicating through an individual project manager? Who are you to contact with questions or concerns? What is the standard procedure regarding punchlist items? What sort of warranties are offered?

4. Timing: How much lead-time does the contractor need to commit your project into his schedule? What is the anticipated timeframe until completion? Ask that a calendar be drafted that includes interim goals. Discuss incentives for early completion and penalties for missed deadlines. Insist that timing be realistic and that the contractor factor in any necessary permitting.

5. Payment: What is required for an up-front deposit? When will additional payments be required, based on what criteria? A lender will likely have a specific draw schedule if you are financing the project; be sure your contractor agrees to the lender’s terms of release.