8 Must-Ask Questions When Interviewing Contractors

The process of preparation and planning for a home renovation or home construction project can be overwhelming. One of the most important decisions you’ll make during the process is the hiring of a contractor; by choosing the right contractor, you’re effectively hiring a trustworthy partner that will carry out your vision and instill a sense of confidence for the duration. This article will provide guidance for interviewing contractors and, in the process, ensure you stay on schedule and avoid unnecessary and costly mistakes.

If you choose the wrong contractor, you could be left with shoddy workmanship, delays (or worse), and budget overruns. For example, imagine you’re looking to build an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU). If you hire a contractor that doesn’t have a grasp of the new ADU laws for 2023, you could wind up with a structure that violates zoning laws. In order to avoid the costly mistakes that can result from an unqualified or incompetent company or individual, it’s important to do your due diligence by interviewing multiple contractors—but your job doesn’t end there.

By asking on-topic questions that help you get a sense of the contractor, how they compare to their competitors, their style of working, and more, you can ensure a smooth and painless home renovation or construction project. 

Here at GreatBuildz, a free service that connects homeowners in Los Angeles, Orange County, Ventura, or San Diego with reliable residential contractors, we speak to homeowners every day about planning for a residential renovation – here are must-ask questions when interviewing contractors.

Hiring a Contractor: The Basics

contractor on roof

It is frequently necessary—and, in fact, generally advisable—to hire a residential contractor for home improvement projects. Remodeling, renovation, and new construction are just a few of the services that residential contractors specialize in. To choose the best candidate for the job, it is crucial to comprehend the various residential contractor types and their specialties. 

There’s a different contractor specialty for a huge range of construction types, and the things to look for when hiring a new construction home builder will differ significantly from those when choosing a contractor for a bathroom remodel. General contractors specialize in managing larger projects from beginning to end; they can typically be counted on for hiring subcontractors, obtaining permits, and ensuring that the work is finished and in adherence to building codes. 

On the other hand, specialty contractors concentrate on a single trade, like roofing, plumbing, or electrical. Employing a contractor who specializes in the kind of work required for the project is crucial. Make sure the residential contractor you hire is qualified for the job and has the necessary licenses. A contractor who has a license has proven that they have the necessary training, work experience, and industry knowledge. 

This guarantees they possess the abilities and knowledge required to carry out the project effectively and safely. Additionally, using a qualified contractor lowers the possibility of making expensive errors and guarantees that the project will be finished safely and in accordance with zoning regulations and building codes. 

Hiring an unqualified or unlicensed contractor, however, carries a number of risks. These risks include poor workmanship, delays, cost overruns, and even legal liabilities. It’s possible that an unqualified contractor isn’t covered by insurance, which could subject you to liability for any injuries or damages sustained during the project. 

It’s critical to gain an understanding of the residential construction industry and different specialties when choosing a residential contractor. To guarantee that the project is finished safely and follows city codes, it’s also essential that the contractor is licensed and qualified.

Must-Ask Questions for Contractor Interviews

contractor customer signing documents

When a homeowner is planning a home renovation or construction project, they typically place the greatest emphasis on the design and their budget. However, a thoroughly thought-out budget and blueprints drawn by a professional architect aren’t enough to ensure a successful addition or improvement to the home. 

Interviewing multiple contractors is of the utmost importance to the process, and those interviews are only as effective as the questions you ask. That being said, here are the must-ask questions for residential contractor interviews, along with some information on why they are so vital to your renovation’s success. 

  • Are you licensed and insured? This will help you determine if they’ve met state requirements for experience, education, and competency; it also protects you from damages or injuries sustained during the project.
  • What experience do you have with this type of work? If you’re interviewing a contractor who has never remodeled a kitchen, you probably shouldn’t hire them to remodel your kitchen. Your contractor should be able to provide examples of similar jobs.
  • Can you provide references and examples of similar projects you’ve completed? This is your best bet for determining their workmanship and reliability.
  • What’s your realistic timeline for this job? It’s important that you and the contractor you hire are on the same page regarding a realistic timeline.
  • What is your estimated cost quote and payment schedule? Understanding the project’s cost and payment schedule upfront will help prevent surprises and misunderstandings.
  • Who else will be working on my home? Will you hire subcontractors, and if so, what’s their experience level? You have every right to know exactly who will be in your home and working on it; a great contractor works with great people.
  • Will you take care of permits and inspections, ensuring adherence to building codes? Any answer other than “yes” should be a red flag and a deal-breaker; you should come away with confidence that the contractor will ensure everything is up to code.
  • How do you approach unexpected issues or changes? Vital to help avoid delays and cost overruns.
  • What is your availability? It’s normal for a residential contractor to be juggling multiple projects at once. Doing your due diligence in ensuring they’re not overburdened and can thus complete your project on time is essential.

Asking these questions will help you select the right contractor for your project. You’ll also get a sense of each contractor’s communication style, which is another factor that can greatly impact your comfort level and confidence for the duration of the work.

Related: How to Find a Good Local Contractor

No Such Thing as a Bad Question

contractor discussion

Choosing the right contractor is essential for any home renovation or construction project, and that’s only made possible by asking the right questions during the interview process. This guide has provided readers with the must-ask questions that will help them assess a contractor’s qualifications and reliability. Asking these questions will not only help homeowners select the best contractor for their project, but will also help them establish a productive and communicative relationship with their chosen contractor. By following this guide, homeowners can avoid costly mistakes and ensure a successful outcome for their home improvement project.

Finding the best local contractors can be an extensive process. Let GreatBuildz take it off your hands. We’ll help you find a reliable contractor in the Los Angeles, Southern California, Orange County, and Ventura County areas who you can trust with your project. Contact us today at (818.317.3567) or visit our website to learn more.

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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