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Looking for the Best Home Improvement Contractor? Here’s What You Need to Ask Before Signing a Contract

Are you currently seeking not just any old home improvement contractor but the best home improvement contractor to help you renovate your dream home? There is no shortage of home improvement contractors in Maryland and Virginia, but that does not mean all of them can and will give you the results and experience you are after. To find the best home improvement contractor, asking questions ­– and lots of them – is key. You might think you will scare away potential contractors with all your questions, but the best contractors will be more than happy to answer all your questions, and then some. You see, the more you ask in the beginning, the better off you will be in the long run. You do not want to get halfway through your home improvement project to find you have hired a subpar contractor who does a shonky job or ends up sleight-handing you with hidden fees or multiple change orders. So, how do you find the best of the best home improvement contractor? Ask these 7 questions. 

1. How Long Have You Been a Home Improvement Contractor? 

A good home improvement contractor will have been in business long enough to have a proven track record. While you may believe hiring someone who has had 30 years in the industry over 10 years in the industry would be the better choice, it really comes down to references. The contractor with 30 years might have terrible references, while the contractor with 10 years experience has glowing reviews all round. A proven track record with multiple contactable references is key.

2. Can I Have a List of References?

References are one of the best ways to tell if you are hiring a good and reputable home improvement contractor. If you ask for a list of references and a potential contractor cannot give you any, this is a big red flag. Checking references is vital, and the National Association of the Remodeling Industry has a great list of questions to ask previous clients before hiring a contractor. For example, you want to ask if the job was kept on schedule, how well the contractor communicated and much more. 

3. Are You Licensed?

In the US, not all states require contractors to have a license, while some states stipulate you need a license for projects over a certain value. Even if your state does not require home improvement contractors to be licensed, you would be wise to find one who is. This is a good test to see if the contractor backs his work and is trustworthy, because a contractor who is unlicensed and does a half-job can easily leave you high and dry, and you will be left to resolve the issue by yourself. If you hire a contractor who is licensed by the state, you will have backup if any issues arise. Check out this list to find out whether your contractor is required to be licensed or registered to work on your project.

4. Do You Have Insurance? 

While a good home improvement contractor is unlikely to damage anything in your home during the construction process, it is not impossible. A broken water pipe, knocked ceiling or any other issue can be a major financial headache if your contractor does not have insurance. You do not want to be held financially responsible for an issue your contractor caused. That is why you need to hire a contractor who has insurance so if they break something in your home, they will fix it or cover all of the costs to fix it. 

5. How Long Will the Project Take? 

An experienced contractor should have no qualms about offering you a project timeline. While unexpected problems and delays can arise, the best contractors can still provide an estimated time of completion. Sometimes, a project cannot be given an estimate of completion if the contractor suspects hidden damage or additional work behind existing walls and floors. In this case, a trustworthy contractor should be willing to sign a time and materials contractor, meaning you know ahead of time how much extra you might be out of pocket in case the contractor needs to repair unexpected problems. 

6. How Will We Communicate? Will You Be On-Site at All Times? 

It is important you ask your potential contractor how he prefers to communicate, and how often you will be in communication about the project. Does he communicate via email? Text? Phone call? Consider how you would prefer to communicate, and try to find a contractor who aligns with your style. It is also wise to ask how often the contractor will be on site to oversee progress and make sure the work is being done according to plan. If the contractor will not be on-site every day, it is a good idea to ask how often he will stop by to check on the project (the answer should be “every day”). You also want to ensure the contractor is relaying daily updates back to you so you know what is going on at all times. 

7. Do You Offer a Work Guarantee? 

The best contractors offer a guarantee or warranty for their work, whether it be six months, a year or a lifetime. While every contractor will offer a different guarantee, two things they should always offer guarantees on are defective materials and any workmanship issues. The warranty should be written and signed by both you and the contractor. 


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Topics: Home Improvement Contractor