If you’ve found a contractor on Google, or even through a referral from friends or family, it’s still important to talk to that contractor’s references. Checking a contractor's references is an essential step before making any home improvement hiring decision. If you really want to get the scoop on whether or not a contractor is the right fit for your home remodeling project, make it a point to contact former customers and ask them some important questions about that contractor's quality of work and reliability.
When you ask for a contractor’s references, these clients should be the contractor’s best projects. On average, you can expect that the contractor will provide 2 or 3 clients whose project was completed in the last 6 months to a year. The question that you really want to get to the bottom of is whether or not the contractor met, didn’t meet, or even exceeded their clients’ expectations. Unfortunately, “Did they meet your expectations?” is somewhat vague. That is why we created the list of questions below, to help you parse through exactly the quality of service you can expect from that home remodeling contractor.
The following questions are a good place to start (we’ve even included more detailed questions so you can really dig in):
1. What kind of work did the contractor do for you?
Was the contractor hired to provide a large-scale home remodeling project, or a smaller one? What was your overall goal for the project? Do you feel like the contractor understood your goal and offered creative solutions to enhance your initial ideas? Did the contractor have helpful project planning services and vendor options to make all of your material selections a breeze?
2. Did you have a clear idea of what the contractor was going to do?
Did the contractor provide adequate written detail in the contract including important details such as who will be performing the work, what types of materials will be used, when the project will be started and finished, and how change orders should be handled?
3. Did they show up on time?
How often did the contractor or crew come to your home? What hours did they work? Did they clean up the work site at the end of each day? Did they follow the schedule outlined in the contract? Did the contractor complete the work on time?
4. What was working with the contractor’s crew or subcontractors like?
If the contractor wasn’t there, was there a crew leader or an employee to answer your questions or make decisions? Were they pleasant and easy to work with? If the contractor used subcontractors, were you happy with them?
5. Was communication with the contractor adequate?
Did the contractor stay in touch with you throughout the project or if any changes needed to be made? Did they update you regularly on the status of your project?
6. Did your job come in according to budget?
Did the contractor provide a fixed price for the project upfront and more importantly, is that the price you paid? If not, why? Changes will happen on every job. Plumbing might be out of code, and wood rot or mold might be exposed after opening a wall. Homeowners may also bring changes to the table mid-project. These are understandable. The types of changes you are looking to uncover will tell you whether or not the contractor is experienced, professional and a good communicator.
7. Have they honored their warranty commitment?
Oftentimes, warranty issues have to do with small, mundane tasks that come up a few months after the project was completed, like cracks in grout or caulk. These items may have been unseen to the homeowners and contractor at the close of the project, and were discovered after living in the new space for a while. Did this contractor follow through on their commitment to correct these little issues in a timely manner?
8. Would you hire the contractor again?
No one answer will say more about a contractor's work than the customer's willingness to hire them again. It’s very telling if a customer is not willing to hire a contractor again. Was there something particular about the contractor, their crew or the project that they didn't like?
Contractor references are one of the best ways to get an idea of whether this is the contractor that you want to work with. An open, candid discussion with their previous clients regarding the quality of work and communication will give you invaluable insight into the contractor’s work style, ethics, and quality of service.
Most of us are well versed in the saying, “you get what you pay for.” We have all bought cheaper products and been disappointed. These questions will help you hire the best possible contractor who will ultimately provide the best bang for your buck.
Helton Remodeling Services, LLC specializes in custom, budget driven kitchen, bath, and whole house remodels in the Austin Metro Area. Give us a call today to start planning your future project. (512) 387-5335