You've made the decision that you want to remodel your home. Partnering with the right contractor can make a world of difference in the quality of craftsmanship and the amount of emotional and financial stress that you are left to deal with throughout the process. It's well worth your time to thoroughly interview prospective building contractors to help you choose the best partner for your project.
So what are the right questions to ask when interviewing potential contractors? Here are some good questions to ask a prospective building contractor so that you'll have a better understanding of his or her area of expertise, breakdown of costs, and communication style:
1. How long has the building contractor been in business?
Not only do you want to partner with someone that has been around for a while, but also someone that is well established in your community. A contractor that has been actively working in your community for at least 5 to 10 years has likely built strong relationships with a network of subcontractors and suppliers, which can work to your advantage. To get a better understanding of a prospective contractor's longevity of working in the community, ask for references from one or two of his earliest clients.
2. Can the contractor provide you with an itemized bid?
In many cases, you'll find that contractors will provide you with a single, bottom-line price for your proposed renovation. However, as the homeowner, this can leave you in the dark about how the cost of the project was derived. Ideally, you'll want to select a contractor that is willing and able to provide you with an itemized bid, which can help you to make more of an apples to apples comparison when reviewing bids from prospective contractors. Generally, if a contractor is resistant to itemizing his bid, it's a red flag for what the future working relationship would be like.
3. Who are the building contractor's main suppliers?
You'll probably find that you are familiar with many of these suppliers. As a best practice, give these suppliers a call to learn more about the relationship that they have with the prospective building contractor and the way that he or she conducts business. You may even be able to find out if the contractor pays bills in a timely manner and if he or she is an upstanding customer.
4. Can you meet a project manager for a current project?
Often, building contractors are not the ones that are actually swinging hammers. Instead, the project manager is the person present at your job site each day. For this reason, it's a good idea to ask to meet a project manager in action and see how smoothly his or her project is going.
When you ask these questions to any prospective building contractor, be sure to listen carefully to how he or she responds. If you find that the contractor has a difficult time putting together clear responses for you, this could be an indication of a potential communication issue. This could be a significant problem when you are trying to communicate with the contractor about important job details down the road.
At Empire Custom Builders, we have three decades of experience in building and remodeling homes in Central Florida. Please contact us to learn more about what you should expect from a building contractor.