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Update: Hiring the right contractor for your remodel is essential to the success of any remodeling project. Making sure your contractor has the right qualifications and shares your vision for the project is a vital part of the preparation process. Though most contractors are trustworthy and reliable, there are some out there that don’t do a great job, which is why you need to be thorough in checking references when you are thinking of hiring a contractor.

If you are planning a house addition or a home remodeling project, you may be considering the hiring of a contractor. In addition to checking the credentials of the contractors you select for interviews, compiling a list of questions you will ask each of the people you interview, and outlining your project, the materials you want used, and the like, you should also be thinking about asking for references from those contractors and preparing to interview each of the references they provide.

This is a very important part of choosing a contractor for your project. You will want to know how much experience each potential contractor has with the type of work you need done in your home. Perhaps as important as the questions you ask a contractor during an interview and the ideas and pricing offered by each potential contractor is the experience of others who have hired that person for a similar job.

Upon request every reliable contractor will be able to provide to you a list of recent jobs and a list of previous jobs similar to the one you are planning. It will be important for you to visit the sites of the contractor’s previous similar work to evaluate the final product. So, when you receive a list of references from a contractor, start making calls and scheduling appointments to visit those previous clients.

You might also want to try to find out about other jobs the contractor has done that are not listed as references. It could be just as important to find out why certain similar jobs were not listed as it will be to interview previous clients who are listed as referrals. But how do you find out about those clients? Your starting point should be the contractor’s website. Search the site for listings of previous jobs. If this results in the same list provided by the contractor as references, dig a little deeper. The next source of information is the building codes and permits office of your locality. In most localities, this is public information. You should be able to search the database or other records of issued permits for those issued to each contractor on your list.

Begin your information gathering by driving by each location you have identified at which the contractor previously did work, especially work that is similar to your project. If you are able to find a telephone number, call and talk with the homeowner. If not, you can try dropping by and knocking on the door to ask your questions. Then arrange an appointment with each of the references the contractor provided. Ask to see the finished work. Ask the homeowner all the questions you believe are relevant.

A questionnaire for previous clients or customers is provided at the end of this article. As previous customers answer your questions, it is a good idea to make a few notes. You could find that you will talk with a number of people about each of the contractors you are considering. Notes will enable you to keep information organized, and give you a point of reference if you decide to ask the contractor for the other side of the story when customers were unhappy. Don’t forget in your interviewing that some people are just impossible to please, and that some people are easier to work with than others.

One of the things you will want to learn from a contractor’s previous customers is how the customer felt about working with the individual. You must decide several things before you decide to hire a particular contractor:

  • Is the quality of the person’s work up to your standards?
  • Is the contractor reasonably priced in terms of standard rates?
  • Is the contractor committed to quality?
  • Does the contractor listen to what the customer wants?
  • Can you trust the contractor to be in your home?
  • Can you trust the contractor to do what is promised?
  • Can you talk to the contractor?
  • Can you work together?

The previous customers you interview will be a key element in your decision about selecting and hiring a contractor for your project. It is very important that you feel comfortable with the person you hire. It is also important that you feel you are able to communicate clearly and effectively with one another. There will be questions and decisions to make as the project progresses.

The suggested interview questions that follow are not exhaustive. You will probably have follow-up questions to the answers of the people you interview, and you may think of other questions that are prompted by the conversation. Hopefully, however, this list of questions will help you cover the most important issues and help you think of other questions you will want to ask.

Interview Questions for Contractor References

  1. How do you feel about the quality of the work done by this contractor?
  2. Were you comfortable discussing the project with him/her? Contractor Selection Workbook
  3. Do you feel that you were on the same page with regard to the quality of materials used in the job?
  4. Were you happy with the quality of workmanship?
  5. Were you comfortable with the contractor and the subcontractors he/she selected being in your home?
  6. Were there any problems when the contractor or the subcontractors or workers interacted with your family?
  7. Did the workers arrive on time, as promised, each day?
  8. Were the workers clean, neat and courteous?
  9. Was the work area neat and clean at the end of the day?
  10. Was the project completed on schedule?
  11. How did the contractor handle delays, problems or mistakes?
  12. Were there any unexpected delays? What kind?
  13. Were any changes from your plans required after work began? Did they incur additional cost?
  14. Was the initial estimate for the job reasonably close to the final contract price?
  15. Was the contractor helpful with regard to any need to control costs?
  16. Was the project begun on schedule?
  17. Were you satisfied with the experience of working with this contractor?
  18. Were you satisfied with the quality of the job?
  19. Would you hire this contractor again for another job in your home? Why or why not?
  20. Would you recommend this contractor to your best friend without reservation?
  21. Was the contractor knowledgeable about alternative materials, designs, ways to reduce cost, etc?
  22. Was the contractor able to anticipate potential difficulties or challenges in the job? Was he/she able to recommend solutions in advance that would save time and/or money?
  23. Was the contractor open to you purchasing materials for the job?
  24. Was the contractor agreeable to allowing you to do some of the work?