What to Ask a Remodeler

Advice

According to NARI of Idaho, Here are 14 Questions

Who will you choose to wield the hammer on your particular job? That isn’t an easy question. Your choice of a contractor will ultimately determine the success and enjoyment of the job.

You can increase your chances of having a successful project by conducting qualifying interviews, following up on references and credentials, and considering all aspects of the remodeling project-the physical work and the emotional strain. You need to look for the person you feel will provide the best all-around service available-above-and-beyond the necessary construction skills.

The following questions will help you establish a company’s qualifications and reputation, and help you find the right person for your job.

1) 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 in the industry.

2) Who will be assigned as project supervisor for the job?

Also ask whom you should contact if the supervisor is not available. Get exact names and contact phone numbers for all persons who will be involved in the project.

3) What is the time frame for starting the project?

Now is the time to ask questions about work schedules. You should ask: What is your estimate for completion? How early will your crew normally begin work? When will they normally quit for the day? Will I be contacted about delays or changes in the schedule? By whom?

4) What is your approach to a project of this scope?

This will give you an idea of how the contractor works and what to expect during the project. Listen carefully to the answer. This is one of the big indicators of the company’s work ethic.

5) How do you operate?

In other words, how is your firm organized? Do you have employees or do you hire subcontractors? If you do have employees, what are their job descriptions? Do you use a project supervisor or lead carpenter to oversee the project? Other firms will have additional positions. You should know what parts of your project will be handled by staff, and which will be contracted out to independent contractors.

6) Is your company a full service or specialty firm?

If you are planning a small project, say replacing the bathroom plumbing, you may be better off hiring a specialty plumbing firm or a bathroom remodeler. However, if your project involves multiple changes, entire rooms or additions, you should consult a full service or design-build firm.

7) Do you have design services available?

If you are considering a large or involved project, you will need design services. If the contractor does not have design-build capabilities, you should consider hiring an architect. Depending on the size and scope of the project, you may need an architect or structural engineer. Read more

Warning Signs when Interviewing a Remodeler

Recommendation

According to NARI of Idaho, these are some warning signs to watch out for while interviewing your remodeler

Avoid remodelers at all costs when:

  • You can’t verify the name, address, telephone number or credentials of the remodeler.
  • The salesperson tries to pressure you into signing a contract.
  • The company or salesperson says your home will be used for advertising purposes so you will be given a “special, low rate.”
  • The builder/remodeler tells you a special price is available only if you sign the contract “today.”
  • No references are furnished.
  • Information you receive from the contractor is out-of-date or no longer valid.
  • You are unable to verify the license or insurance information.
  • You are asked to pay for the entire job in advance, or to pay in cash to a salesperson instead of by check or money order to the company itself.
  • The company cannot be found in the telephone book, is not listed with the local Better Business Bureau, or with a local trade association, such as NARI.
  • The contractor does not offer, inform or extend notice of your right to cancel the contract within three days. Notification in writing of your Right of Rescission is required by law. This grace period allows you to change your mind and declare the contract null and void without penalty (if the agreement was solicited at some place other than the contractor’s place of business or appropriate trade premises-in your home, for instance.)

In addition, be cautious when:

  • You are given vague or reluctant answers.
  • The contractor exhibits poor communication skills or descriptive powers.
  • The contractor is not accessible.
  • Your questions are not answered to your satisfaction.
  • The contractor is impatient and does not listen.
  • Only the work is addressed, instead of your needs as the homeowner.
  • There is no presentation book of previous projects presented.

Questions to Ask References

To protect yourself, always check the contractor’s references. This is an essential stage of qualifying the right person for your project. Here are just a few questions to ask previous customers:

  1. Could they communicate well with the remodeler?
  2. Were they pleased with the quality of work? (This is a tough question, however, since everyone defines “quality” differently. It is much better to ask to see the completed project to determine the level of quality for yourself.)
  3. Were they satisfied with the remodeler’s business practices?
  4. Did the crew show up on time?
  5. Were they comfortable with the trades people the remodeler subcontracted to?
  6. Was the job completed on schedule?
  7. Did the remodeler fulfill his or her contract?
  8. Did the contractor stay in touch throughout the project?
  9. Were the final details finished in a timely manner?
  10. Would you use the remodeler again without hesitation?

Originally from NARI of Idaho website.

A Checklist for Choosing Your Remodeler

Recommendation

Contractor Checklist From NARI

Be sure to look for and be satisfied with these items before signing a contract with a contractor.

  • Was the Contractor/Salesperson on time?
  • Was their appearance neat and professional?
  • Was their vehicle presentable?
  • Did they listen to your ideas, and ask questions?
  • Did they suggest options / alternatives / ideas?
  • Do they have insurance? (Liability & Workman’s comp.)
  • How many years have they been in business?
  • Are they members in any trade or other organizations?
  • Are they certified? (If applicable)
  • Do they have a website for more information?
  • Do you feel comfortable with them?

Download NARI’s PDF version of this checklist here.