Whether it’s your first remodel or your third, embarking on a home renovation can feel slightly overwhelming. As a homeowner, your highest priority is making sure your home is in good hands . That’s why it’s important you thoroughly vet your general contractor before hiring them for the project.
There are countless questions you might want to ask, and considering the investment, we don’t blame you. If you’re not sure where to start, that’s what we’re here for. Here’s our list of must-ask questions before hiring your general contractor.
Can you provide me with references?
Nowadays, there’s a lot of ways to find a general contractor for your home remodel: a referral from a friend, through an app like Yelp, or tried and tested Google Search. Regardless of how you’ve landed on the contractor of your choice, asking for references is a crucial way to ensure you’re working with someone you can trust.
No amount of 50-word five star reviews can replace verbal testimony from one or two previous clients. Even if you’re working with a referral from a friend , one or two more positive reviews can’t hurt.
Do you have proof of insurance?
It’s critical that you choose a contractor with general liability insurance, which covers potential damages to your home. When it comes to remodeling, even small mistakes can prove to be incredibly costly, and while we’re not here to give you renovation anxiety, it’s best to be prepared.
It’s also important to note that any general contractor employing even one employee should have workers compensation insurance, too. Maybe this one’s self explanatory, but this way anyone working on your project is covered if they’re injured on the job. Without coverage, you could end up being liable.
Asking for proof of insurance is a fairly standard practice, so if your contractor balks at your request, it could be time to resume your search.
How familiar are you with the subcontractors you’ll be working with for this project?
Okay, so you’ve found your ideal general contractor: maybe you’re especially impressed by their portfolio of previous projects, their professionalism, or you’re just fond of their personality. Regardless, it’s likely that your general contractor won’t be taking on your entire project solo — they’ll bring in subcontractors with different skill sets. Choosing the right general contractor is paramount — ultimately, they’re the one at the top of the construction hierarchy — but it doesn’t hurt to make sure they’ve done their fair share of vetting for who they’re bringing in to the project. All you need to do is ask them about it.
What kind of financial buffer should I incorporate into my budget for this project?
When embarking on a remodel, it’s important to have an idea of just how much financial wiggle room you should leave yourself through the course of your remodel. Budget can be a serious point of contention between a homeowner and a general contractor. In older homes, especially, unexpected obstacles can prove costly.
Before you get started, take a moment to sit down with your general contractor and review the details: where, in their experience, might extra costs pop up? Is there a “buffer zone” you should leave yourself in your budget? Of course, it’s possible that everything will go to plan — but we’d rather you be prepared than just optimistic.
Do you use Punch List?
If you haven’t heard of Punch List, we’re pleased to be the bearers of good news. The app is an excellent way for homeowners to stay organized, stay in touch with their contractors and keep track of budget — all simultaneously, and for free.
Ask your contractor if they’re using Punch List. Once they’re on the app, you can upload a project plan and break your remodel down by phase. Then add the details, like timeline and budget, and enjoy the in-app direct message function. Now you can ask your general contractor any question you want in real time — it doesn’t have to be from this list.
The app also allows you to pay general contractors in real time: it’ll create automatic, digital invoices, but only for work that you’ve approved. Contractors can send photos of completed work or questions about the project through the direct message function, too, so if they’ve got questions for you (and we hope they do) you’ll be right on the other end of the line.
There’s a roster of important questions to ask your general contractor when it comes to remodeling your home. It’s a complicated, multiphase process, and as a homeowner, you’re trying to think big picture while keeping your eye on the small stuff.
Make sure you run through logistical questions, and then do yourself a favor — stay organized, and make sure you’re not paying for work you haven’t approved. Go ahead, ask your contractor — do you use Punch List? And hey, if the answer is no, that’s not a red flag. Changing their answer is as easy as having them tap the download button in the App store.