Planning Spring Renovations? 5 Questions To Ask Your Contractor
Contributed by: Cristina Miguelez, Fixr.com
You’re spending the winter cooped up indoors, waiting for the weather to warm up and let you enjoy the outdoors once again. Looking ahead to spring, not only are you ready to tackle all those outdoor adventures, you’re also ready to start some of those home renovations you’ve been putting off as well.
There’s just one thing left to do, and that’s find the right contractor for the job. How do you know if you’ve met The One? These five questions will help you get to know your contractor better, while also ensuring that he or she knows what you want for the job, so you’re both ready to start on the same page and tackle your spring renovations together.
Can You Give Me Your Credentials?
You need to know that your contractor knows what they’re doing. You also need to know that if your state requires things like licenses or certifications, that they hold these things and that they are in good standing. A good contractor will gladly provide all of this to you – and more. They should let you know the types of projects they work on regularly, what brands they have relationships with (important because it means that they know these brands and how best to install them), and what insurance they hold. You should want to trust your contractor, and your contractor should be an open book so you can gain that trust. A contractor that isn’t upfront isn’t someone you want to trust your home to.
What Recommendations Do You Have for This Project?
During the “getting to know you” part of this process, you will have shown your contractor what it is you’re thinking of having done. Now’s the time for them to impress you with their knowledge and know-how. For example, if you’re having your roof replaced, they should be able to recommend things like hail-proof or algae-proof shingles if these things are a concern for your
area as well as make you aware of any important consideration regarding roof installation for the type of project you are planning. Or if you’re building a deck, they should be able to help it blend in more seamlessly with your yard, home, and landscaping as well as advise you on best maintenance tips. Maybe they can direct you to a Design Tool to help you envision what the completed project will look like.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that your contractor will only recommend things that will earn them more money. Most contractors simply want to do the job the right way. This means fewer call backs for them and more referrals from you.
Can I See Your Portfolio?
Every good contractor has a portfolio of past work. This is the stuff they’re most proud of. It should be current, meaning that it shouldn’t look like they put it together 15 years ago.
You want to see this for a few reasons. It lets you check out how well they do their job. It lets you see what it is they’re most proud of, and it lets you check out the types of styles they do the best with. You can also get some inspiration and ideas for projects of your own. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so if you like something they’ve already done, ask how you can incorporate it into your home design.
What Kind of Timeline Are We Looking At?
Reality TV and home improvement shows have given us all the wrong idea of how fast a project can be carried out. In reality, some materials can take weeks to arrive, your contractor may have other projects scheduled he needs to complete before getting to yours, and the actual renovation can take time, too. You need to know what kind of timeframe this is going to be, so you can be prepared. After all, if you’re planning a big garden party to show off your new deck or patio, you should have a good idea of when it will be completed first, right?
If the answer is a daunting “months”, then find out what you can do to speed things up. Can you choose the material and order it now, so it’s ready? What about choosing stock material, or getting on a cancellation list? Some things may not be possible, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.
How is the Climate and Location Going to Impact My Project Over Time?
Exterior and interior renovations can both be impacted by weather and climate. And there’s nothing worse than putting all your time, energy and money into a project that looks awful in a few years because you didn’t consider the fact that some siding materials can be damaged in high winds or that the salt you’ll use to melt snow on your front walk will ruin your new porch boards.
Your contractor likely knows about these things and may have some recommendations to make for you as well. If they have no ideas at all? It could be because they aren’t experienced enough in this area. And given the cost of home renovations, this isn’t something you can necessarily afford to overlook.
Know Your Contractor, Know Your Project
We’ve all been so anxious to start a new project that we didn’t take the time to ask questions or be as prepared as we could have been. Don’t let this happen with your next spring renovation. Get to know your contractor and their thoughts on your project, so you can avoid common pitfalls, and help ensure project success.