Everyone has heard the horror stories of contractors hired to perform home improvement contracts. Maybe the contractor took a person’s money and ran, or left the work half-done. Others stories tell of faulty workmanship that causes major headaches after the fact. Asking these ten questions will help ensure you don’t have a negative plumber experience.

Who are your workers and how will they be supervised?

This question is extremely important if you are hiring a contractor to do work in your home. Unfortunately, some contractors hire workers with checkered pasts and don’t watch over them. Most people wouldn’t willingly let convicted criminals into their house. Unless you’re one of the few that will, you should make sure that the company you’re hiring does thorough background checks.

How much is this going to cost me?

Always ask for a price quote when considering a contractor, and get the amount in a written invoice/proposal. After you have collected the quotes from several contractors you can then compare the differences. High price quotes can indicate contractors who charge too much for their work, but low price quotes can signal contractors who cut corners to get the job done. Just don’t go too low nor too high and you should be golden!

How do you work?

Many people neglect to ask this question, but it’s extremely important. For example, you don’t want to have a contractor showing up to work on your kitchen at five in the morning if you like to sleep in. You also need to discuss if the contractor will be working on the project every day, or if he will be taking breaks for days at a time. Both of you being on the same page will help avoid misunderstandings later.

How much do you need up front?

Many people focus just on the bottom line or the total cost of a project, but you need to ask how much you need to give the contractor to get the work started. Anyone asking for the majority of a project?s cost up front should be a warning sign to you.

What will the timeline for completion look like?

The answer to this question will give you excellent insight into how the contractor thinks and plans. Disorganized contractors will not provide a definite answer, or will be vague on how the timeline would look. Contractors who have experience setting and meeting deadlines can provide a clear plan for completion by a certain date.

Who do I pay?

This is another question most people don?t think to ask, but it?s fundamentally important. You should be paying traceable funds to a business since that indicates the contractor is licensed and operating legally. Paying an individual is often an indication the contractor is trying to fly under the radar, which is a bad sign.

What are your credentials and experience?

As with hiring any professional for a job, you need to check out the background of a potential contractor. Check with the state to verify he’s licensed and bonded. While you’re at it, make sure the contractor carries insurance as well as workers? compensation, both issues that could cost you significantly if there were an accident.

Can you put that in writing?

Anything the contractor promises you should be put in writing. This includes a timeline for completion, what materials will be used, the final cost and how the work will be performed. Getting everything in writing protects both you and the contractor if there is a disagreement, so legitimate contractors won?t have a problem with this.

What follow-up work do you perform?

Some contractors guarantee their work, to one extent or another, for a specific period of time. It could be that a contractor uses only one or two brands of doors or material to construct decks because the manufacturers guarantee the materials.

What guarantee do I have that you’ll do a good job?

At the end of the day we all need guarantees that a contractor won?t under-perform or worse not perform at all, and yet still collect their fee. Establishing some sort of guarantee, such as holding back a majority of the payment until the job is performed satisfactorily, helps protect you.


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