The decision to renovate your home is one of the biggest decisions homeowners make. You spend hours pouring over magazines, watching HGTV shows like Flip and Flop, and scouring the web for local contractors, you ask friends and you make phone calls. So when the time comes for you to start interviewing your short list of prospective contractors asking the right questions can make all of the difference. Hiring the right people is essential. Renovations are never simple. By doing your research and asking the right questions you will make a positive contribution to the renovation project, and you will likely get the most out of your general contractors. Steve, a general contractor in Orange county says, “I love it when homeowners ask the right questions, it allows me to give them the information they need and I can give them best work possible.
Here are 10 important questions to ask your general contractor from the hiring process to paperwork.
- When choosing a company, it’s a good idea to find out who will be doing the work. Ask to meet the crew supervisor and to visit a job site. The crew supervisor is the lynchpin of a strong work crew. If you ask to go see them at work the contractor is sure to send you to see his A-Team. You will also have a chance to establish an agreement with the people who will be making your dreams come true.
- Is your bid and estimate or a fixed price? And ask to see an itemized bid. Whenever possible you want to get a bid at a fixed price. This way you’ll know how much money you need to allocate and can keep costs as low as possible. An itemized bit and bill will allow you to see how where your money is being spent.
- How long have you been doing business in this town? In most cases, hiring a local contractor will give you the best value for your money. Locals know the environment and community and will be able to source the best for your buck. Companies like Cornerstone Property Services in Southern California are a favorite because they know the ins and outs of SoCal.
- How do I reach you after hours? It is important to establish lines of communication with your contractor. There will be many details to organize and productive communication is a must.
- What part of my project concerns you? Asking the contractor to speculate about possible bumps in the road will save you the disappoint of finding out as you go along. Talking up front about some of the worst-case scenarios will prepare you and make it easier to tackle the problems that arise.
- What is a charge-order and what if we run into them? Charge orders are changes in the scope and/or price of work written into an order and signed by both the client and contractor. This covers any work that needs be done outside of the original bid. It will be important to understand how your contractor has dealt with these costs in the past.
- What is the schedule? Know when work will start and end is crucial. It also outlines tasks and gives you a big-picture view of the renovation project. It is sometimes a good idea to set benchmarks with your contractor as a way to regulate the schedule.
- How will the decisions get made? As the homeowner, your primary responsibility in most cases is to make decisions. It is a good idea to establish good communication about how and when your decisions will get made.
- What kind of documentation will I receive when the project is done? Make sure you know what documentation you will receive, and that you keep your records.
- How is your work guaranteed? Asking the right questions will give you peace of mind even after the crew has packed up and you move into to your new space