Home Renovations: Questions to Ask Your Contractor
Home renovation projects bring up a million questions, but which ones are the most important to ask your contractor? “How long have you been in business?” “Can you handle a project of this size?” “Who will manage my project?” These are all great questions, and we’re here to help give you the best advice and tips so that you have the tools to select the perfect contractor for your next home renovation project.
Picture this: It’s the year 2020. You’ve been stuck at home during a global pandemic quarantine just staring at your old kitchen or worn-out bathroom. But honestly, where do you even start?! Is it just one bathroom that needs help? Or just the floors? Can the cabinets be refinished? Do you even like your cabinet design? Remember what I said about a million questions? Sorry, I’m not done with the questions, but this is where your most important ‘homework’ begins. Keep reading to see the top questions you should ask yourself and your contractor before beginning a project.
But First, Get a Printable Copy of These Questions. Plus Our Bonus Tips!
To make it easy, we created a printable version of these questions, perfect for taking with you to contractor and project planning meetings. Just enter your email below and we’ll deliver it right to your inbox! We’ve also included some BONUS tips featuring seven of the most commonly missed design elements. Seriously, don’t go through a remodel or building of a home without taking these commonly missed elements into consideration!
Enter your email address here to have a printable version of these questions emailed to you!
Now Onto the Questions!
Visit ‘The Refined‘ project in our portfolio to see more of this master bathroom renovation, plus their kitchen too!
Questions to Ask Yourself:
What is the scope of my project?
- Full kitchen? Partial kitchen? Master bathroom? Lower level finish?
What are my goals and priorities with this project? Why am I doing this project?
- What are you gaining from doing this project? Is it to increase resale value, or is it for you to enjoy your home exactly the way you want? These answers will help everyone involved with your renovation know what the overall vision and reasons for the project are so that expectations can be better met.
What is my overall budget for this project?
- This question is one of the most important questions to ask yourself as the project will be dictated on what your planned investment is for the renovation project. You may be renovating your kitchen, but maybe you’re just refacing the existing cabinets, keeping the existing appliances, and updating the countertops and backsplash. That project scope would be a completely different investment than replacing everything! So that’s why it’s a good idea to discuss those items with yourself and/or spouse before meeting with a contractor.
What is the ideal timeline I would like to have this project completed by?
- If you’re planning to host a family reunion or the next big holiday at your home, this is great information for the contractor to know upfront. It’ll allow your contractor to determine if the expectations of the project scope are capable of being completed by those upcoming events, due largely to the fact that your project may not be his/her only project going on.
How would I like to communicate with my contractor?
- Call, text, email, homing pigeon? I’m kidding. But people do have their preferences, so it’s important to let your contractor know your preferred communication method throughout the project so that your contractor can keep you well-informed of any possible changes.
Do I need to live in my home during the renovation? Do I have anywhere else I could go?
- I’m not going to downplay it; living on-site during a home renovation can be challenging, but if there isn’t another option, make sure to let your contractor know so they can plan for it. This will dictate how early they can begin work every day and how late they’re able to stay so that they’re not completely disrupting your home life. The implications also depend on what the project is. If it’s a master bath renovation and you have another bathroom to use, there is likely no problem with living there during construction. However, if it is a full kitchen renovation, this limits a lot, so you will have to decide for yourself if you’re able to make do.
Visit ‘The Good Vibes‘ project in our portfolio to see more on this lower level renovation!
Questions to Ask Your Contractor:
How long have you been in business, and do you have your contracting license?
- Companies with experience have developed practices overtime to ensure that the expectations explained at the beginning can follow through to the end. It is very important to work with contractors that have the proper licenses and certifications to complete the project as needed. There are different requirements in cities, states, and countries, so as a homeowner, you’ll want to make sure you do a little research on your own before meeting.
- Permits and Inspections: Not every job requires these, but it’s always a good idea to ask your contractor if they will be obtaining permits and scheduling inspections for any part of the project that requires it. A credible contractor will know which kind of permits are required based on the project scope, how to get them, as well as pulling them for the project.
What do you anticipate for timeline completion for my project?
- As mentioned in the ‘Questions to Ask Yourself’ portion, it is important to relay your ideal completion date so that the contractor is able to give an estimate of time needed for the scope of the project. It is likely they are not working on only one project at a time, so it is good to find out how long they think your project scope will be and how they are scheduling their time with all of their projects.
Can you work within my budget, and what is the payment schedule?
- Whether working with a designer and contractor together or just a contractor, it is always good to let them know what your budget is for any construction project. But also to know that everything comes at a price. Knowing the vision for your project with help not only you figure out if your project is achievable, but it will help the designer/contractor know if they will be able to complete what is asked within your desired budget.
- The Better Business Bureau advises never paying for the full price of contracting work upfront, and a reputable contractor shouldn’t ask you to either. It is also important to have the whole project scope and pricing in writing before pressing the Go button. Then if anything during the project build changes, everyone knows what the expectations were in the beginning and can then figure a way to remedy whatever the situation may be.
Who will manage and be working on my project?
- Most contractors have a dedicated project manager to oversee the daily work throughout all of their ongoing projects, whether it is the business owner or someone else from their team. They may also sub-contract different companies to install certain parts of the project, like plumbing or electrical. If this is the case, always ask if the sub-contractors are covered by their liability and worker’s compensation insurances. This should be a common practice with reputable contractors. Note that having a project manager will help ensure that the project goes as close to plan as possible with the correct selections and timeline.
- Another great question to ask is what the contractor’s working day will be like, especially if you plan to live in the home during the renovation. Start times, end of day times, prep areas needed, noise level; these are all things a contractor should inform you of so you know what the everyday expectations will be.
How do you manage potential additional costs throughout the project; scope creep?
- Scope Creep is when a project’s scope changes from the original plan due to a client adding items or when the project work starts to extend for reasons that would have not been known prior to the project start. For example, finding [undetected from the interior of the room] water damage inside of a wall as the electrician is wiring for new lighting. Even with the best of the best project planning and estimating, home renovations can still be unpredictable. Once the project has started, issues may arise that could increase the original estimated price. Your contractor must be clear with you on all changes and approve any extra costs with you before work is to continue. Another great item to have in writing! This is also why it’s great to have all of your notes and ideas ready and clear at the beginning of the process.
Visit ‘The Irishman‘ project in our portfolio to see more on this lower level finish!
Get a Printable Copy of These Questions, Plus Our Bonus Tips!
You should now have a solid foundation on the knowledge needed to find the right contractor to renovate your home. There is a lot of information, but there are no bad questions! Make sure to be clear of what your goal and budget are for your project so that your contractor can understand your expectations and, in turn, give you the proper expectations of what they can do for you.
To make it easy, we created a printable version of these questions. Just click here, or on the image, to enter your email and we’ll deliver it right to your inbox! We’ve also included some BONUS tips featuring seven of the most commonly missed design elements. Seriously, don’t go through a remodel or building of a home without taking these commonly missed elements into consideration!
Your Edina and Minneapolis Metro Home Renovation and Interior Design Resource
Che Bella Interiors can facilitate the design process for your next home renovation, and we also hold our contractor’s license to facilitate the ENTIRE project from start to finish! Contact us today to discuss your next project!