As remodelers, customer education is part of the job. Give your customers the “right” questions to ask and you will be prepared to answer.
You can download the pamphlet below in PDF form HERE or continue reading for an easy way to educate your customers.
Interviewing Remodeling Companies:
What to Do and What to Ask
Remodeling can be a fun experience. You get to create your dream room or home and learn a little about design and building along the way. All you need to do is ask the right questions. So tap into your curiosity and ask away!
We recommend that homeowners start by asking questions about a company’s business practices and their experience in a similar type of project. If you decide you want to hire a particular contractor, then you can discuss when he or she can start, what time he or she can knock on your door each morning and when you will have your home to yourselves again. These are all items that can be discussed at a pre-construction meeting.
When interviewing a remodeling company, homeowners should pay close attention to credentials and verification of those credentials along with business practices. Often times customers ask questions such as “When can you start?” or “When will it be finished?” but these simply are not enough. Yes, timing may be “everything” in comedy, but that certainly is not the case when it comes to remodeling. If you are to have a successful remodeling project, you need to learn the right questions and how to ask them.
While a reasonable timetable is important, it should not be the primary focus of an interview or a job, neither should budget. Homeowners should be focusing on trust and quality. If you find someone who is reputable and trustworthy, the budget and timeline will fall into place.
Here are some questions BD Contractor Services recommends you ask before signing a remodeling or repair contract:
- How long have you been in business?
- Generally the home improvement and remodeling markets go through a downturn every 7 years or so (although we skipped the last one!) so a company who has weathered one or two recessions shows that it has staying power.
- Are you licensed?
- In most states, home improvement commissions or similar entities, make certain that licensing requirements are met. Many contractors who advertise themselves as “licensed” merely carry a business/traders licensed and have not been licensed specifically for home improvement work. Check with your state’s licensing board to verify the legitimacy of your contractor’s claim.
- Does your company carry workers compensation and liability insurance?
- Always verify this information by calling the agency. A copy of an insurance certificate does not let you know if the policy is still current. Even if the certificate has an expiration date, you cannot tell if the insurance has been canceled by either party. If licensing is required in your state also ask if the contractor is licensed and call the Home Improvement Commission to verify compliance with the law. Not all states offer or require licensing.
- Who will be supervising the job?
- Make sure that a project manager or owner will be assigned to you.
- Who will be working on the project? Are they employees or subcontractors?
- While neither answer is necessarily better (employees may be more reliable, but subcontractors may be better at the specialized details of tasks they perform regularly), it is important that the contractor can explain to you what his or her theory is on this and why they feel that way. It will help you understand their business practices.
- What is your approach to a project such as this?
- You will be able to see the thinking process behind the project, learn the methods used to plan and execute your project and gain valuable insight into the ability of the contractor.
- How many projects like mine have you completed in the past?
- Zero or one is really not an acceptable answer. Let someone else be the guinea pig for this contractor.
- May I have a list of references from recent projects and projects like the one I am looking to do?
- A good rule of thumb is to get references from two similar projects and the most recent project a contractor has completed.
- What percentage of your business is repeat or referral business?
- This is one of the most telling items. If a contractor advertises incessantly, but does not get a lot of repeat business they are either doing extremely specialized work or, well, we’ll leave the rest to your imagination.
It’s also important to realize that sometimes it’s not the answers you get that are significant, but what you do not get. Asking the right questions is not enough. You need to pay attention to your instincts and to what information is missing.
Unlike your accountant or stock broker, your remodeler will be a part of your daily life and available for some on-the-job education. He or she will be privy to your personal life, more so than your doctor or lawyer. Your contractor will know how you look early in the morning and how well-behaved your dog is. It makes sense that you should take some time to carefully select this person and make sure that it is someone of whom you can ask questions.