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How to Interview a Contractor

by Don Vandervort, © HomeTips

Once you have a basic set of house plans for your remodel, you’re ready to interview contractors to build your project. It’s important to get at least three competitive bids from different contractors and then to interview each. (For information about choosing the right type of contractor for your remodel, see Types of Home Improvement Contractors.) carpenter_contractor

For the purpose of getting bids, request that your architect or designer print identical sets of house plans—one for each prospective contractor you intend to interview. (Once you’ve received bids from the contractors, request that those who did not get the job return the plans to you as those plans may come in handy later for electricians, plumbers, or other tradespeople.)

Set up separate one-hour interviews with each contractor candidate; ask your architect or designer to be present for each, if possible. Be prepared to discuss the plans and details about your project.

• Ask each contractor to bring a portfolio or photos of some prior jobs and a list of references you can call. You’ll want to make sure the contractor you choose has experience with the type of project you’re doing, and, before you sign a contract, you’ll want to call references.

• Ask each contractor to bring a copy of his or her contractor’s license, proof of bonding (if required by your state), and proof of worker’s compensation insurance.

• Be ready to discuss your timetable for completion of your remodel. You’ll need to know when you want to start and finish and then make sure your contractor will be available during this period.

• Pay special attention to intangibles, especially your chemistry with this person. In most cases, the contractor will be in the midst of your personal life for months. It’s important to choose someone you like.

Contractor Interview Questions

How long have you been in business?

What is the scope of services you would provide? What aspects of the job will you not be doing as part of your contract:

•    Getting permits?
•    Demolition and hauling?
•    Purchasing and installing all fixtures?
•    Other?

Do you have a job in progress right now? If so, can we visit the job site? (This will give you a good feeling for the contractor’s crew and job site standards and may give you an opportunity to talk with the homeowners.)

When do you anticipate submitting a bid for this job?

How long do you think this job will take?

What would you need from us during the construction process?

Who will be doing the construction? Will you be on site during all aspects of construction? Will you have any other jobs ongoing at the same time?

To get free recommendations for top-rated local contractors, call the most reliable and comprehensive referral service, HomeAdvisor, at 866-350-2983 (toll free).

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