Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Contractor
The difference between a successful home renovation and a botched project is sometimes as simple as working with a contractor. Yet finding the right contractor can be hard to do. You want to make sure that person has adequate experience and can give you the best value for your buck, but how do you find out?
I’ve outlined the top questions you should ask any potential contractor that will help you avoid unpleasant surprises and make sure you’re getting what you want out of the deal.
Are you licensed in your field (and in the province)?
Licensing requirements for contractors vary by province. For instance, carpenters in Quebec are only required to have trade certification, while every other province requires them to be certified. Electricians must be certified in domestic and rural areas at the very least, but construction electricians have different requirements.
Check your province’s requirements to confirm if the contractor you hire and their subcontractors are legally compliant. For peace of mind, you may want to opt for a contractor who has a certified trades designation through a post-secondary program or workplace training.
What experience do you have?
When you’re hiring a contractor, make sure to ask how long they have been offering their services. This will help you determine how much experience they have with your type of project.
For example, if you need help remodeling your basement, you’ll likely want to hire someone who has completed this project before, not someone who has only ever worked on kitchens and bathrooms. Just because someone has 10 years’ experience doesn’t mean they’re automatically better for the job than someone with less.
Each scenario will be different, but this type of information is always good to know about to help make a more well-rounded decision.
Do you have an inhouse crew, or do you use subcontractors?
When you’re ready to hire a general contractor, they’ll provide you with a detailed plan that outlines what they need to complete your renovation or repair, including information on the team they’ll require.
Many general contractors have their own crew, but they may use subcontractors for tasks their team isn’t qualified to do. Celebrity contractor Mike Holmes says contractors might bring engineers, architects, and interior designers into the mix. Just make sure you know about the subcontractor’s qualifications and experience levels before agreeing to anything.
What is your timeline?
If you have a big job planned, it helps to know how long it will take and when the contractor and their crew typically complete work. Scheduling around disruptions is important, too. For example, if you or your neighbors don’t like to wake up early, you might not want construction sounds starting at 6 a.m.
Giving them a heads up about potential noise would be helpful because you want to continue being in good standing with your neighbors. It’s also helpful to know what your contractor’s workload is before they start working for you.
This is crucial because issues with another project might end up affecting the progress of yours—so ask if they can be flexible with your needs and how they divvy up their workload.
Are you insured?
When hiring a contractor, be sure to confirm that they’re properly insured. You don’t want to end up with medical bills or property damage because the contractor you hired isn’t covered by insurance. The Canadian Home Builders’ Association recommends confirming that your contractor has business liability insurance and that they provide a Letter of Clearance from your province’s Workers’ Compensation program.
Will this job require permits? Will you get them?
When you plan a home renovation or construction project, the first thing to think about is whether or not you need a permit. Your contractor will probably handle the process of acquiring the necessary permits from the city.
That being said, it’s never a bad idea to do your own research so that you can be sure everything is done properly. A great contractor will obtain and manage permits on your behalf and factor the time needed for that into your overall timeline.
Ask how far in advance these permits need to be obtained before work can start, as well as how long it usually takes for them to be approved.
In closing, when hiring a contractor, it’s important to make sure you get the best possible estimate for the work you’re hiring him or her to do. Don’t be afraid to shop around! The best way to do this is by requesting quotes from multiple contractors not only so you can see who will fit within your budget.
But, just because a quote is lower doesn’t mean it’s the best way to go. Carefully compare your quotes to see what each contractor is offering. Make sure their workmanship, details, and timelines are aligned with your own ideas.
How can Ahmad, mortgage specialist at AskAhmad.ca and the Total Mortgage Source 360 Team help you?
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