Choosing your tradesmen is the most important decision in a remodeling project. Take your time and be thorough in your search. Here are just a few places to start looking for the best contractor for your job:
Word of mouth referrals
Job site signs: Pay particular attention to homes with signs of their contracting company on their lawn. Is the site clean? Are the tools and materials being handled in a responsible manner? Are there dust covers over the owner’s belongings to protect them?
Local media attention: Look for articles about local tradesmen.
Direct Mail: Some tradesmen/contractors will send direct mail to home owners within a few miles of a current job.
Home Shows: This is a great place to gather information about companies and to make an initial contact with the contractors.
Interviewing a Tradesman/Contractor – What Questions Should You Ask?
The following questions will help you establish a company’s qualifications and reputation, and help you find the right person for your job.
How long have you been in business?
Look for a company with an established business history in your community. Most successful contractors are proud of their history in the industry.
Who will be assigned as project supervisor for the job?
Get exact names and contact phone numbers for all persons who will be involved in the project.
What is the time frame for starting the project?
You should ask: What is your estimate for completion?
How do you operate?
In other words, do you have employees or do you hire sub-contractors? What are their job descriptions? Do you use a project supervisor to oversee the project?
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 remodelled.
Does your company carry workers compensation and liability insurance?
Are any of your company’s employees certified?
Trade certifications are good indicators of dedication, professionalism and knowledge of the industry.
May I have a list of references for projects you have completed which are similar to mine?
The prospective tradesman or contractor must supply you with a few different references, including the names, telephone numbers and addresses of previous clients.
What percentage of your business is repeat or referral business? This will give you a good indication about the company’s customer satisfaction.
Will we need a permit for this project?
Of the many questions you can ask during an interview, the most important question is one you must ask yourself. “Do I feel comfortable with and trust the person I am about to hire?”
Avoid tradesmen/contractors at all cost when:
You can’t verify the name, address, telephone number or credentials of the tradesmen/contractors
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
The company cannot be found in the telephone book
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.
Questions to Ask References
Always check the contractor’s references. Here are just a few questions to ask previous customers:
- Could they communicate well with the tradesman/contractor?
- Were they pleased with the quality of work? Ask to see the completed project to determine the level of quality for yourself.
- Were they satisfied with the tradesmen/contractors business practices?
- Did the crew show up on time?
- Were they comfortable with the trades people the contractor subcontracted to?
- Was the job completed on schedule?
- Did the tradesman/contractor fulfil his or her contract?
- Did the contractor stay in touch throughout the project?
- Were the final details finished in a timely manner?
- Would you use the tradesman/contractor again without hesitation?