10 Questions You Should Ask Before Hiring a Home Remodeling Contractor — We’ve Got the Answers! Plus THE Answer to a Question People Don’t Ask
If you’ve got the itch to remodel or add an addition to your home, you’ve likely come across all the online articles telling you the 10 or 20 (or some random number) of questions you should ask before hiring a home remodeling contractor.
To save you some time, we’ve looked at all the listicles, and we’ll answer the most common right here, right now. In fact, Houzz has a comprehensive list of 10 Things to Ask Your Contractor Before You Start Your Project that jumps to the top of our Google search. So let’s use that as our model.
1. What is our schedule?
That one, for us, is easy. We use an online scheduling and project management tool called Buildertrend that enables you, as a client, to see everything we’re doing and going to do. In a major remodel, that means you can look ahead to see exactly what we’ll be doing and when, down to the days.
This isn’t just a transparency tool for you. It’s what we use in-house and to schedule and communicate with subcontractors. You see it all, from beginning to end.
2. Who will be here every day?
Our team includes a production manager, project managers, and our principal owners. Day to day, our project managers are on-site — they keep the security codes and make sure everything’s locked up tight at the end of the day. Our production manager will be there several times a week, and our principals will be there at least once a week. In reality, we’ll be there so much we’ll become part of the family.
To boot, our clients get a daily email update detailing what was done that day, with pictures.
3. How will you protect my property?
We’ll detail where our work will affect your house, and recommend what furniture or other objects in your home should be cleared from the construction zone. To protect the rest of the house once our area is clear, we’ll cordon off the work areas with plastic sheeting.
Depending on the job, we may erect simple framing or spring-loaded tension poles to create a plastic wall and dust barrier, with access through a zipper wall. Which is exactly what it sounds like — use the zipper to get in and out. We’ll also add zippers and protection to doors that need to opened and closed.
We also cover vents and air intakes with filters to keep the dust and gunk out of HVAC equipment.
We’re also sticklers for a clean work zone. It gets swept and vacuumed at least once a day, if not more often. Tools or equipment stored on site will be neat and organized. We strive to make the least impact on your home — and you — if you’re living there during the project, while maximizing the final result.
4. How will you communicate with me?
We’ve already talked about Buildertrend, our online scheduling and communication tool, which messages your email to remind you of tasks like product selections that need attention. Of course, we’ll also have all your contact information, and ask you how you prefer us to get in touch. If you don’t want us to call you, but text you instead, that’s what we’ll do. You’ll have all our contact information too. We’re hands on in every way.
5. What part of my project concerns you?
This is a question we’ll answer upfront. Those concerns vary and depend on:
- The scope of the project
- The age of the house
- How long you’ve lived there — if you’ve lived there for a while, you know more than someone who just moved in and is depending on the home inspection done before buying
There are more, but that gives you an idea of what we look at. Once drywall or flooring comes off, there are things that lurk.
6. What will happen if there’s a change order?
There will be change orders — it could be due to a hidden problem (see no. 5) or our clients might upgrade or downgrade an appliance or material as the project unfolds. You’ll be able to see it all on Buildertrend, including costs. There’s always a current, running tally of costs and change orders. We’ll enter the change order, you’ll accept or deny, and there’s permanent, backed-up documentation.
7. How will you let me know I need to make a decision?
You’ll be notified through Buildertrend and given a to-do, but that’s actually the end of that process. We’ll already have gone over it in person or on the phone, so that we’re all on the same page. We pride ourselves on our communication with you.
8. How do I reach you after hours?
Call Pete, call John, our production manager, or your project manager, if it’s an emergency —
things can happen that need immediate attention. We’ll take care of them.
You’ll have our mobile numbers. If it’s a non-critical problem, call our cells, call the office, text, email, or check in on Buildertrend.
9. When do I need to be available to meet?
We’ll create a schedule of weekly meetings that will happen at the same time, on the same day of the week convenient for you for the duration of the project. However, whenever a client wants or needs a meeting, we’ll be there — the “we” including anyone necessary, likely Pete, Sandy, John our production manager, the project manager, our architect Oliver, or the designer on your project.
At our weekly meetings, we go over what happened in the previous week, and what we’re doing coming up. We might be finalizing the electrical plan so our clients can see how it will work in their home, or laying out a kitchen plan, for instance, on the kitchen subfloor so you can really feel what the space will be. Like how the sink placement works with the dishwasher placement, where the stove, oven and other features will be.
10. What kind of documentation will I receive when the project is done?
You’ll get a big ol’ binder. The owner’s manual includes:
- Care and maintenance instructions for all surfaces
- Appliance manuals and documentation
- A list of paint colors and numbers for each room
- Plumbing and fixture documentation
- Electrical and lighting manuals and documentation
Building plans and drawings detailing the design, plumbing, and electrical work remain live on Buildertrend for client’s to reference.
We also have a final answer to a question none of these online guides ever ask.
How long do they guarantee their workmanship?
We do it for a lifetime. We stand behind our work for as long as you stay in your home. To make sure you’re happy, we’ll check in at the 2-month mark, then 6 months after, then a year, then every year after that.