What to Ask a General Contractor Before Renovating your Connecticut Home
Good contractors communicate well with their clients, so when clients ask questions, they develop a thorough understanding of the issues. Even if you're working with an expert construction contractor, it's still important to know what to ask a general contractor before and during your Connecticut home remodel. The more questions you ask, the more you'll know about your home improvement project - and the easier it becomes to make smart decisions throughout the project.
Your contractor will likely communicate with you about your project in a variety of ways. Read any materials that your contractor provides to you, especially the contract. Many answers to your questions should be contained in the contract.
Ideally, you should work with a contractor that offers as much information up front as possible. Litchfield Builders provides a range of reference materials for homeowners. Check out our online resource library for free downloadable information about home remodeling and how to choose a Connecticut home remodeling contractor.
Read on to learn more about the best questions to ask your contractor.
How much will this cost?
Most likely, your contractor will not tell you up front how much your remodel will cost. Home remodeling projects need to be properly researched before they can be accurately priced. A contractor that offers a price for a complex project without creating a design or researching material costs may not be offering reliable information. Expect to wait a short while after your first conversation before they provide a written quote.
What factors most affect the cost?
Are you on a budget? Ask your contractor about big-ticket items that could dramatically impact the cost of your remodel. Controlling the scope of the project can help you control the cost.
For example, moving walls tends to increase costs, often by thousands of dollars. Replacing cabinets versus refinishing or repainting your cabinets can also increase the cost of your project.
Also important: communicate your budget with your contractor up front to ensure that you and your contractor are on the same page. Your contractor should be able to communicate with you about how to control the cost of your project, but your contractor must know your financial limits before making a design or beginning the work.
Do you have experience performing work like this in the past? Can I see pictures?
Contractors learn a lot through experience, so it's important to hire a contractor with experience performing your specific type of remodel, especially if your remodel is large-scale and complex. Home additions are a good example of this. If your contractor has little or no experience performing home additions, your contractor may struggle with project management and quality. Your contractor may also not have the information they need to price the project properly, which could result in problems once the project is underway.
Ask your contractor to talk about their previous experience performing projects like yours. You may even ask to see pictures that demonstrate your contractor's abilities and quality.
Do you have references?
Always check references before hiring a contractor for a particular project. Three references should be adequate for most projects. Ideally, your contractor will provide you with references who hired the contractor for similar projects. Have a list of questions prepared when contacting references. Some examples:
- When did you work with this contractor?
- Would you hire this contractor again for another project? Would you refer this contractor to others?
- Was the project completed at or under budget? If not, why not?
- Was the project started and finished on time? If not, why not?
- What challenges did your contractor encounter during your remodel, and how did they handle those challenges?
How can I prepare my house for the work? If I need to move out, by when? For how long?
Get a timeline of your upcoming project and know what to expect from start to the finish. Very large projects (like a second story addition) require homeowners to move out. You'll need to know well in advance that this is happening, so you can find a place to live while the work is being done. You'll also need time to move out before the work begins.
Even if your project is much smaller, you'll still need to be prepared for the work, and know when the work will begin and end. Once you've signed the contract, your contractor should be able to start ordering materials and provide you with an estimated start time and end time.
Who is my point of contact?
Find out who to contact throughout your project. Many contractor businesses provide homeowners with one or only a few points of contact, to streamline communications and prevent miscommunications.
What is the payment schedule?
Large projects are not usually paid for all at once. Instead, your contractor will ask for a payment up front to order materials. Once work begins, you may be asked to pay at milestones or intervals, depending on the scope and type of project being performed. Find out in advance the details of your payment schedule to ensure you're ready to make payments when they come up. This information should be memorialized in the contract as well.
How will changes be made to the contract, if any need to be made?
Changes may be made to your contract throughout the project. Changes made to the contract should be documented and should reflect an updated cost, if cost is affected. Make sure your contractor will require change orders to be signed by both parties to ensure that everyone is on the same page.
Hire a Contractor With Exemplary Communication Skills
While it's good to know what questions to ask your general contractor, the best way to ensure that your contractor will maintain good communication is to hire a professional that's committed to providing good customer service. Download our free guide, "How to Choose a Professional Home Remodeling Contractor" to learn more about hiring the best professional for you.
About Kevin Ahern
Kevin is the Co-Founder of Litchfield Builders, an award-winning, industry leader with a reputation for managing projects others shy away from. They are known for their high-quality work, customer service, and reliability and though still relatively small in size, Litchfield Builders now competes with some of the areas largest firms in both the residential and commercial arenas.