Once you decide to move forward with your remodeling project and contact a contractor you will find the best ones ask you a lot of questions to clarify what will work best for your specific project. That doesn’t mean it should be a one-way street however – asking lots of questions during the interview stage will allow you to compare multiple companies on an “apples-to-apples” basis.
Depending on your scope of work, your project could last for a significant amount of time. In addition to spending a lot of time with your remodeler of choice, you will also be trusting them to take care of your financial investment and the integrity of your house. You need to be totally comfortable with and trusting of whoever you choose to work with on your project.
This list of questions will help you think about what is most important to you and your family as you go through the process of evaluating and selecting a construction company. Feel free to print this list and add your own as you think of them, this list should be treated as a good starting point. Then ask each firm you are interviewing and compare their answers.
What does your company specialize in? Do you have any particular areas of expertise?
If you want to add an enormous addition, you probably don’t want a company that performs only bathroom remodeling… But that same bathroom remodeler could be less expensive and more efficient than a general firm if you want to update your master bathroom.
How far out are you scheduling?
Depending on a variety of factors, different companies will be booked out further than others. It is a good idea to check with each contractor to see where their schedule is at, especially if timeline is important to you.
How long will my project take your company to complete?
A knowledgeable company will have a pretty good idea of how long your desired scope of work will take based on past experience. They should be able to give you an estimated schedule early in the process.
Do you have a Michigan builder’s license and are you properly insured?
Ensuring your contractor is licensed and insured is very important as it protects you from liability if someone is injured during your project and gives you options for recourse if the contractor does not complete the project in the manner you agreed on.
Do you offer any sort of warranty on your installed materials and/or labor?
Find out if your remodeler offers any kind of warranty on the projects they complete, and what the details are if so. Pay attention to any “gotchas” with strange wording or conditions.
Is your design process handled in-house or do we need to procure our own?
Typically a design/build contractor will be able to guide you through the entire lifespan of your project. Other companies require you to work on your own to get an architect, interior designer, etc.
What do you think a realistic budget is for my scope of work?
Knowledgeable contractors are skilled at giving at least a decent estimate on what they think your job will cost. They can base it on similar projects they have completed in the past or by using average square foot numbers to give you a basis for planning and saving money to finance the project.
Does your company charge for detailed estimates or proposals?
Many companies are now charging the customer to prepare and deliver a detailed estimate, and you can use that information to your advantage. While you may dislike the idea of paying for an estimate, the proposal you pay for will likely be vastly more detailed, timely, and informative than the one received for free. Usually a rough idea of budget will not be charged for, but anything that requires detailed preparation frequently will be.
Do you use all your own employees, subcontractors, trade partners, or a combination of the three?
How a contractor decides to set up their company and complete the work they have promised you is relatively insignificant as long as the work is completed properly and they stand behind it. It is worth noting that generally speaking the quality of work and attention to detail is better with full-time, loyal employees vs. trader partners and subs that might just be there to collect a paycheck.
What does your process look like if we decide to contract you for our project?
You should ask what to expect from each contractor once you sign on the dotted line. What is the next step, how often do I pay you, how do I choose what products/finishes I would like, who will I need to work with, etc.?
Who can I talk to if I have questions before/during/after the project?
Does your remodeler have clearly defined roles for who will be assisting you at each stage of the process? Is it important that you have one main point of contact?
Use this list of questions as the starting point for your research and you will be well on your way to selecting a contractor that will deliver your job as you envision it.