The “Must Ask” Questions When Selecting a Builder
So you’ve decided to remodel part of your home. Maybe it’s a kitchen makeover with brand new kitchen cabinets. Maybe it’s a refresh of a dated bathroom. Or maybe it’s something different altogether. Regardless, if you’re like most homeowners, you’ll need some help from a builder or general contractor, as well as a couple of other experienced professionals, in order to complete the project.
Selecting the right person for the job can be tough process though. The best choice will possess the necessary skills, effective time-management, and deep knowledge of the subject, all supported by a sufficient amount of hands-on experience.
To help you home in on the best contractor for your project, here is a list of the “must ask” questions for candidates.
1. What experience do you have? Have you completed similar projects before?
By leaps and bounds, relevant experience is the most important factor for you to evaluate. Relevance is key. If they’ve successfully completed projects of a similar nature before, you can be all the more confident they can complete yours.
That said, make sure they have experience working with projects comparable in scale too. They may be experienced remodeling 300-square-foot kitchens, but if you have larger, more complex space, this could pose complications for first-timers.
2. Do you have any references located nearby?
What contractors tell you may be slanted in their favor. Perhaps, they may exaggerate or even flat-out lie. Because of this, it’s best to hear an unbiased opinion directly from a past customer. In a quick conversation, it’s easy to get the highpoints of their service and quality, as well as to dig out any criticisms.
If the reference is willing, take a look at their project in person. Your acceptable quality levels may be different, so it’s best to make judgments with your own two eyes.
3. How do you price the project? What is your bid?
Needless to say, finding a contractor to work within your budget is important. Try to get an idea of how they’re determining their pricing. Will they show you actual material and labor costs plus their mark up?
Some contractors may mark up invoice prices, as well as add their overhead and profit margin on top of subcontractor invoices, and pass these costs to you. Don’t get caught paying unnecessary mark ups.
4. How often will you be onsite? Do you have many other projects you’re working on?
The more the general contractor is able to be onsite, the less likely major problems are to arise. If they’re checking in onsite every day, they can set up a cadence with their workers to put out fires and steer the project towards completion.
A busy schedule can distract a contractor and indirectly hold up your project. Confirm that they’re not too busy to take on your project and that they have the time to make quality visits to your site.
5. When can you start? What is your estimated date of completion?
You certainly have a timeframe for your remodel in mind. Ask if the contractor has the capacity to make it happen. But, as a word of warning, know that you may have to be flexible with your deadlines. Home makeover television shows make remodels seem a lot easier than they actually are. It’s important to be realistic. There’s a lot to coordinate to pull off a successful project.
On a related note, discuss penalties for missing deadlines and, if possible, incentives for finishing early.
It may seem like a lot to ask, but you’ll be happy you did. Don’t be too hasty with your selection either. A decision based on price or project deadlines alone could lead to trouble. Instead, find a balance of experience, price, and quality of services that gives you complete confidence in the contractor.
For more information about the remodeling process, learn how to evaluate general contractors.