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Ask a Contractor These 5 Questions Before You Start Your Home Renovation

Home renovations can be stressful — but these questions will get you started on the right track!

Starting a new home renovation project, no matter how small, is certainly exciting. You’re thinking about how you can customize your home to be exactly what you want it to be by looking at Pinterest, magazines, etc. There’s always so many beautiful possibilities of how you can make your home more of your own space.

While all of that can be a lot of fun, home renovations can also be quite daunting for many people. There’s a lot of work that goes into a home renovation from many people including the homeowner themselves.

After you decide on what it is you want to renovate, one of the first things you must do is find a contractor who will complete the project. There are many websites that can help you with this: Yelp, Home Advisor, and Houzz to name a few. Sites like these will include customer reviews, photos from past projects, the company history, etc. to help you make an informed choice about who you want to complete your project. But there’s still some work to be done once you narrow your list down to a few potential contractors; you have to talk with them and make sure that they’re going to be a right fit for you and your home renovation.

To help with this process, we’ve come up with 5 basic questions that you can ask your contractor to help you decide if they’re the right contractor to complete your project.

1. Can you complete this project/have you done this kind of work before?

Do they specialize in the kind of work you’re looking for? Give your contractor an idea of the type of work you want completed. You don’t have to know every detail, but the more information you give them, the better they’ll be able to confidently say that they can complete your project or not. No contractor can be the best at everything, so it’s best to find one who specializes in the work that you want done. Also, it’s important to note how long they’ve been doing this work. It’s not necessary to hire someone who has 35+ years of experience, but it can be comforting — especially if this is your first home renovation.

Online portfolios can be very helpful in determining if they do the type of work you want and what the end result might look like. While this online research can be very helpful, it’s important to also meet with your contractor and discuss this in person (or at least on the phone or on a video call). You will be working with this person for an extended period of time, and you will be allowing them into your home. Home renovations can be quite stressful at times, so make it easier on yourself and hire someone you know will be able to complete the job well and is someone who you also gel with!

And, in the event that the contractor you’re talking to does not specialize in the work you’re looking for, ask if they can refer you to someone else.

2. Can you finish this project by the desired deadline?

It’s important to be realistic when setting your project timeline, as renovations do take some time. There is a great deal of planning involved, and then there’s the actual remodeling process which, depending on the size of your project, could take some time as well.

Once you’ve set a fairly realistic timeline, ask your contractor if they can complete it by the set deadline. There’s always the possibility that this contractor is in high demand and is already swamped with completing other projects, or maybe a member of their crew is not able to work for an extended period of time. It’s reasons like those that its necessary you ask this question.

3. Why did you get into the business?

This is one question that you can ask your contractor to assess their attitude towards the work that they do. There is technically no right answer to this question, but you can certainly tell how much passion someone has with their response.

Does it seem like they’re only in it for the money? Or do they genuinely enjoy their craft? The love that someone has for their job will show in the work that they produce. A contractor who loves what they do will provide results and a service that is unmatched compared to a contractor, who doesn’t enjoy their job.

4. How much will my project cost?

Money is obviously never the most comfortable topic to talk about, especially with a stranger, but it’s important to talk about finances with your contractor. Home renovations can get expensive fast, so you need to get a good idea of how much your project will cost.

Especially since you’ll only be in the qualifying stage of the home renovation process when you ask this question, it is likely that your contractor will give you a price range instead of one set price for how much the project will cost. Until all the material is ordered, the installation plans finalized, etc., the final cost is not definite.

That being said, you should know what you’re getting yourself into financially from the get-go. Discuss with the contractor what your budget is and if it’s realistic for your project.

5. What would a day of work look like?

It’s likely that this response will sound relatively similar from contractor to contractor, but this question is still helpful to ask to get a general idea of what the renovation process will look like.

It’s also a good way to further feel out if this contractor is a good match for you and your project. Pay attention to the details in their response to this question. Do they specifically mention that they will clean up after the project is done? What will happen to your furniture during the process? Is it recommended that someone is home during construction? All of these things will help you to determine the level of care that your project will receive from a given contractor.

These 5 basic questions should help you to determine whether or not you should work with a certain contractor. If a contractor answers all 5 questions well and to your liking, congratulations! You’re ready to make the next step in completing your home renovation.

It is important to note, however, that shopping around a bit and meeting with 3 or so contractors can be beneficial. Especially if this is your first home renovation, you’ll get a better idea of your options and what the renovation process is like overall. Research is key to a successful home renovation!

California Renovation — building trust, delivering results — Since 1962

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