10 Things to Check When Hiring a Contractor

When hiring a contractor, thorough vetting is crucial to ensure a successful and stress-free construction or renovation project.

In this guide, we unravel the essential things to know when selecting a contractor, providing you with a comprehensive checklist to navigate the process seamlessly. From scrutinizing licenses, certifications, and insurance to preparing for meetings with potential contractors, we delve into the key considerations that form the foundation of a successful partnership.

This comprehensive resource is your roadmap to confidently move from contractor selection to project commencement, safeguarding your investment and setting the stage for successful collaboration in the realm of construction and renovation.

GreatBuildz is a free service that connects homeowners in Southern California with reliable, pre-screened contractors, and then provides ongoing project support to ensure a stress-free experience. We talk to homeowners every day about the most important things to check when hiring a contractor – read on for our best advice.

1. Does the contractor you’re hiring have a license?

When checking a contractor’s credentials, it’s essential to request specific documents to ensure they meet industry standards and legal requirements. Here’s a list of key documents to request:

  • License: Verify the contractor’s license, ensuring it is valid and appropriate for the scope of work in your location.
  • Insurance: Request proof that your contractor is insured, including liability and workers’ compensation coverage. This protects you from potential liabilities in case of accidents during the project.
  • Certifications: Check for industry certifications that demonstrate the contractor’s expertise and adherence to professional standards.
  • References: Ask for a list of references from previous clients. Contact these references to gather insights into the contractor’s work quality, reliability, and communication.
  • Portfolio: Review a portfolio of past projects to assess the contractor’s capabilities and style.
  • Contract: Obtain a detailed written contract outlining project specifics, including scope of work, timelines, costs, and materials.
  • Warranty information: Request information about warranties for materials and workmanship. A reputable contractor should stand behind their work.
  • Permits: Every potential general contractor that you hire is required to keep their licenses up to date and on par with local requirements. It is important to know whether a contractor has obtained the city and county permits for any project they have agreed to take on and have ready to present to each homeowner.

contractor with a license

Related: Topics To Discuss With a Contractor During an Interview

2. Does your contractor respond quickly to calls, texts, or emails?

Receiving timely responses from your hired general contractor can make or break your home remodel. Make sure your contractor assigns you a primary contact person to update you and answer your questions. It is standard for a contractor to return your message within 24 hours.

man researching for hiring a contractor on phone

3. Is your contractor communicating with you?

Communication is key. Choose a contractor who is responsive, transparent, and open to collaboration. Effective communication helps prevent misunderstandings and ensures that the project stays on track. General contractors are responsible for notifying clients of potential problems or delays during a project. Consider hiring a contractor who will work with you when you have concerns and answer your questions honestly. 

When hiring contractors for your project, asking the right questions is crucial to ensure they are a good fit. Here’s a list of key questions to pose during the interview:

  • Experience: Inquire about the contractor’s experience in projects similar to yours, including size, complexity, and specific requirements.
  • Timeline: Discuss the expected project timeline and inquire about potential delays or obstacles that may arise.
  • Subcontractors: Clarify if the contractor plans to use subcontractors and, if so, assess their qualifications and insurance coverage.
  • Communication: Understand the communication process, including how updates will be provided, who the main point of contact is, and how issues will be addressed.
  • Budget: Discuss the budget, ensuring clarity on all costs, potential additional expenses, and the payment schedule.

contractor and client communicating

The types of communication you should receive from a contractor are notifications about delays due to weather or materials and guidance about any new decisions that must be made in response.

4. Has your contractor provided a schedule?

General contractors are obligated to provide homeowners with a project timeline and stick to it. The schedule is usually worked out during the written contract phase when you’re hiring a contractor, so don’t be afraid to ask about it early on in project planning.

Clearly outline the scope of work and obtain a detailed written contract. The contract should include project timelines, costs, materials, and any other relevant details. Ensure the contractor provides a realistic schedule and budget.

contractor talking with homeowner who is looking into hiring a contractor

Should there be any delays in the project timeline, your general contractor should update you immediately if not in advance. 

5. Does your general contractor maintain a safe work site?

While one should always exercise caution on a project work site, it is important to hire a contractor that works safely. Does your contractor use materials that are industry standard? Are they adhering to the standards of city and county inspections?

Independently verifying a contractor’s documents and trustworthiness can be a challenge, especially if you haven’t done it before. Leave it up to the pros by working with GreatBuildz instead. We work with a family of trusted contractors, each of whom must pass our rigorous vetting process.

When you reach out to GreatBuildz, we learn everything we can about your project, needs, and vision, and work diligently to pair you with the perfect contractor partners in the Los Angeles and Southern California areas – we always make sure you’re confident when hiring a contractor for your remodel. Contact GreatBuildz today at (818.317.3567) or visit our website for more information.

contractor working on site

A contractor is responsible for maintaining a safe work site. Failure to follow protocol can result in injury, project delays, and legal issues.

6. Does the potential contractor take on too many projects?

Your contractor should never prioritize another project to your detriment. When a contractor commits to too many projects at a time, it can cause delays for your home project. 

contractor on a worksite

Make sure your general contractor is committed to a full day of work, every day, until the end of the contract.

7. When hiring a contractor, do they charge reasonable prices?

Make sure your contractor provides estimates in writing. A quick search can show you the range of your project’s cost, but don’t be afraid to get a second opinion. Be cautious of unusually low bids, as they may indicate subpar work or the use of inferior materials. A reasonable and competitive bid reflects the contractor’s understanding of the project’s requirements. 

contractor working on house

Related: How To Know If You Should DIY or Hire a Contractor

8. Does the contractor you’re hiring have good reviews? 

When looking for a general contractor, take the time to see what others have said about them. What do other clients say about the quality of their work? Do they hire experienced and reputable workers and subcontractors?

Taking the time to thoroughly vet contractors safeguards your investment and sets the foundation for a successful partnership. When you’re close to hiring a contractor, start by verifying the contractor’s credentials, including licenses, certifications, and insurance. A licensed contractor demonstrates compliance with industry standards and local regulations. Insurance protects both parties in case of accidents or property damage during the project.

woman searching for contractor

Review the contractor’s portfolio and ask for references from previous clients. Examining past work provides insight into the contractor’s expertise and style. Contacting references allows you to gather firsthand accounts of the contractor’s reliability, communication, and work quality. Always double-check. A few minutes of web searching could save you a lot of headaches! GreatBuildz can provide you with a list of vetted contractors

9. Does your contractor offer a warranty?

A general contractor who is confident in their work will offer homeowners a warranty. When hiring a contractor, they should be able to guarantee exemplary work on your project and commit to resolving any potential issues after its completion.

Homeowner project walkthrough while hiring a contractor

Don’t be afraid to ask potential contractors about their warranty policy!

10. Does your contractor respect you?

When asking clarifying questions, does your potential contractor brush off your concerns? Are they accommodating when a project changes direction or goes off schedule?

Preparing to meet with contractors is essential for a smooth and successful collaboration. Begin by defining your project goals and outlining specific requirements. Clarify your budget constraints and timeline expectations to ensure alignment with prospective contractors.

Research potential contractors beforehand, considering their reputation, experience, and client reviews. Create a list of questions to ask during the meeting (see below), covering topics such as licensing, insurance, and previous project experience.

woman hiring a contractor

Develop a clear project scope outlining your expectations, including design preferences, materials, and any special considerations. This document serves as a reference point during discussions, reducing the likelihood of misunderstandings.

Gather inspiration and examples of what you envision for your project. Visual aids help convey your ideas and provide a starting point for discussion. Prepare a list of priorities, so you can communicate what aspects of the project are non-negotiable.

You should always have the final say when making decisions about your home. We can help you find a contractor that will make your vision a reality.

 

When it comes to hiring a contractor, you shouldn’t have to go it alone – GreatBuildz can help simplify your contractor search. GreatBuildz is a free service that connects homeowners in Los Angeles, Orange, and Ventura Counties with reliable, thoroughly screened general contractors and provides project support from start to finish.

 

Call now to chat with a real person to get realistic, local price estimates for your home renovation. Visit our website to get started, or give us a call at 818.317.3567

Hi, we're Paul and Jon - Co-Founders of GreatBuildz. We believe everyone deserves to find a great contractor, have a stress-free renovation, and enjoy their beautiful new space. There are so many contractors out there and it's often hard to tell the good from the bad... until it's too late. We started our company to help simplify your contractor search and help you have a stress-free renovation experience. We're always available to help, no matter where you are in the process. Click here to learn more about our story.

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