Looking to hire a contractor for an upcoming remodeling project but aren’t sure where to start? We’ve got you covered! In our latest blog post, we’re sharing what you should know before hiring a contractor as well as 7 helpful questions to ask during the interview process.
What to Know About Hiring a Contractor
1. A remodeling contractor provides a service. As with most service-based businesses, the type of services offered can vary throughout the industry. Another thing to note is that the costs associated with remodeling can vary from contractor to contractor. On average, 1/3 of remodeling cost is attributed to materials and the other 2/3s covers labor costs. While materials will be comparable across the board, labor costs are often determined by the contractor’s skill levels and installation methods.
2. The contractor should meet the bare minimums required by law. Your chosen contractor should be insured and lead-based paint certified. The contractor should always put licenses and permits in the contractor’s name, not the homeowner’s. Finally, each project should have a written contract in place, regardless of project size.
3. The contractor should be a professional. While we’d love to believe every remodeling contractor is a qualified professional, that’s not always the case. Most contractors will have marketing materials like a website and business cards. To find a contractor that rises above and beyond average contractors, ask to see past remodeling projects. Don’t be afraid to ask to see client testimonials or request references, either. Hearing first hand the quality of service a contractor provides will go a long way in finding a contractor that fits your project.
Some elements that can set a contractor apart from the rest include:
- Participation in professional associations like NARI or BATC/Housing First
- 15+ years of experience and vast knowledge about the type of project you desire
- Has won accreditation with their peers by receiving design or customer service awards
- A professional website with pictures, reviews, and videos
- Partners with or has an in-house design team that will work with you throughout the project
- Insured with an umbrella policy and workman’s compensation.
Now that you know what kind of qualifications to look for, here are 7 questions to ask during the interview process.
1. Who will be my contact and will the contact person change for each part of the project?
At J. Carsten, Jason is your contact during each phase of the project. This ensures that nothing is lost in translation throughout the project. From design to planning to construction to warranty, everything stays organized and on track. While the project is underway, it’s likely you will see Jason every day. In fact, you might just get so used to having him around that you’ll miss him when the project is over — or at least your pets will!
2. How good are your estimates?
An estimate is worthless if it doesn’t include realistic costs for the project. No one wants to be told a low price, only to have the number go up 20-30% once the project is completed.
3. How much do your customers deviate from your allowances?
This number will vary depending on the type of allowances offered by the contractor. At J. Carsten, our typical overage due to changes made by the client is 2-5%.
4. Do you use the same trade subcontractors consistently or receive bids for the lowest price?
Benjamin Franklin said it best when he stated, “the bitterness of poor workmanship remains long after the sweetness of a low price is forgotten.” With that in mind, J. Carsten Remodeling only partners with highly qualified subcontractors. As one of our most trusted assets, we never make decisions based on price and consistently use the same subcontractors from job to job.
5. What is your experience?
Jason is a Certified Kitchen & Bath Remodeler. He has been awarded numerous accolades in design and customer service, which has been awarded by those in the industry. His portfolio includes kitchens, bathrooms, additions, and new homes.
6. What kind of professional/industry experience do you have?
Jason is past president of NARI-MN and current Remodelers Council Chair of BATC/Housing First MN. Both associations are dedicated to education and professionalism, and all members must adhere to a code of ethics.
7. How will you protect my home while remodeling is underway?
J. Carsten Remodeling covers floors, walls, and other items of value before work begins and uses Build Clean dust collectors to significantly reduce dust. We also make sure you can easily access other areas of your home that are not under construction.