3 Steps in Interviewing a Contractor
When a contractor knocks on your door at the appointed time, do you know what to do?
A lot of people don’t.
Usually they let the contractor lead the meeting – which is a big mistake. This is your renovation and your meeting.
So below I have provided you with some key steps to take along with the questions you are going to want to ask. Be sure to have these on hand and be prepared to take notes.
Step 1: Lead the Meeting
Invite the contractor to have a seat and let him/her know that first you have some questions to ask him. At the end of this blog, I’ve listed the top questions to ask.
It is perfectly fine to read the questions from your list and to take your time writing the answers.
The key to this part of the meeting is two-fold:
- Are they willing to take the time to answer your questions patiently and in full?
- Based on their answers, are you willing to work with them?
If the answer to the first question is “nope”, you definitely do not want to work with them. Trust me. If they lack patience or are vague in their answers, how do you think your renovation is going to go? Probably not well.
Even if they do take the time to answer your questions, you may not like some answers. Are these deal breakers for you? Really listen to your gut – if unsure, don’t be afraid to confirm the answers to those questions again.
Here is the important part: if you do not want to work with them once this meeting has finished, do not move onto the next step. Do not waste your time or theirs.
So how do you do this? It is fair to say something like “I have other options to explore before I start asking for more information. Thanks so much for coming by. We really appreciate it.” or “At this point, I don’t think we are a good fit. But it was nice meeting you and we appreciate the time you took to talk to us”.
Step 2: Show the Space
So you’ve decided you can work with this contractor and feel comfortable progressing with the meeting. So you can suggest that you all look at the space that you wish to renovate. Now is the time to pull out your plan and talk about the renovation.
No plan? Oh boy, you just started in the wrong place! Check out my full service
Renovation Design Plan or my DYI online service Design Your Renovation
Have an honest conversation with him. If he asks how much budget you have, tell him. There should be no secrets when it comes to money. And they should be able to tell you right then and there if your budget is feasible.
Is your budget feasible? Most times it is not because people do not know the cost of materials and labour. Be prepared to add approximately 25% – 40% to your budget!
Step 3: Ask for an Estimate
Every contractor you interview will want to know you are serious about actually doing your renovation. Providing a written estimate takes time and effort. So you can assure your contractor by giving them 2 items:
- Your plan
- Estimate Sheet
Providing each contractor with a copy of your plan enables them to all bid on the same parameters. In looking at your plan, they know the materials they will need, trades to bring in, and can estimate the time involved.
If you take a step further and provided them all with the Estimate Sheet to complete, that tells them you are quite serious.
The Estimate Sheet enables you to compare each estimate – apples to apples. This is invaluable when you are analyzing bids and have two competing bids you are keen on.
Reviewing the Estimate
If a contractor offers to come by to discuss their estimate, then welcome it!! It should suffice to say that all contractors should be willing to review their estimate with you. You are not committed to accepting the contract at the time of the meeting.
But be sure to review each Estimate Sheet and decide upon a contactor, if any.
The Interview Questions
Let’s get to the top questions to ask. This list is by all means not exhaustive but it gives you a good place to start. There are 3 categories of questions as I see it:
Ask About Their Business
- What type of insurance do you have?
- Are you a licensed General Contractor?
- How long have you been in business?
- Have you ever been sued by a client?
Ask About The Way They Work
- How do you resolve issues of workmanship?
- How would you communicate your progress or any issues?
- Do you show up every work day until the job is done?
- Do you provide certificates of the trades they use?
Ask About Their Work
- Have you done similar work to our project?
- Do you have references for these projects?
- Did you stay on budget and on schedule?
- Can you share your portfolio?
Ok, so there are actually 12!
And there you have it folks. Everything you need to interview a contractor. I know the sometimes it can be daunting….but this is your home, your renovation and your money. It is imperative you take the time to do your research and interview contractors.
Do you want to talk about my Renovation Design Plan service? Set up a 20 minute chat with me to see if it is the right fit for you. Or you can call me at 519-494-8965.
Until next time, stay safe my friends…
P.S. I have an innovative online design service that will help you with all aspects of planning your renovation. It is called Design Your Renovation and it is coming soon! Send me a message if you want to be added to my list to know when it launches!