Questions to Ask a Contractor Before You Hire

It’s renovation time, and, as part of your preparations, think about the last time you hired someone to rebuild or remodel your home. There was probably an initial phone conversation, followed by a site visit where you were probably given a quote for the project and a discussion of a timeline. Then, they showed up to start the job.

You may have asked them for testimonials or photos of previous work. But did you ask if they had their own insurance?

According to experts, it’s essential that hired contractors and subcontractors are adequately insured. (Some experts suggest they should carry $1 million liability at minimum.) If they’re not insured, the work they do for you comes at a high price. If they are injured, or if there is damage to your property because of their actions, you could be the one to take the financial hit. Your homeowners insurance may have to pay if the contractor doesn’t have a liability policy.

To avoid liability, it’s always wise to vet contractors at the beginning. Ask friends and neighbours for recommendations, and check out the candidates through your local Better Business Bureau. If you’re unsure about what credentials your contractor should have, contact the national contractors association.

Ask what insurance the contractor has before you hire. Then ask to see the insurance certificate as proof that the contractor’s policy is in place. There have been incidences of forged certificates, so be wary. Also, check the date to ensure it will remain valid throughout the entire period he or she will be working on your project.

Finally, be sure you can work with the contractor. Whatever the project, you must have a high level of confidence in your contractor; inevitably, things will go wrong on the job, and you need to be able to work closely with him or her to help solve problems.