You may have heard the horror stories of homeowners who hired a remodeler only to be left with a disaster. A homeowner hired a remodeler who promised to turn their kitchen into a chef’s paradise before contacting us. Instead, they ended up with a barely functional mess that resembled a TV dinner tray. 

Of course, they, unfortunately, had to face an incompetent contractor. But do you know what they could have done to avoid this mess?

By asking their remodeler the right questions before hiring them. To save you the ordeal that our past customers have faced, we have put together a guide to help you select a home remodeling company that delivers what they promise. 

Why Ask Questions Before Hiring a Remodeler?

a remodeling contractor inspecting the project
a remodeling contractor inspecting the project.

Homeowners typically do ask questions to remodeling contractors. But the essence is to figure out the ‘why’ behind this practice. Asking questions can help you: 

  • Gauge the quality of the remodeler’s work.
  • Clarify any doubts regarding the remodeler’s services, process, pricing, and experience. 
  • Get a real picture of your project.
  • Avoid last-minute shocks.
  • Ensure that the remodeler and you are on the same page.
  • Attain an output that matches your vision.
  • Make an informed decision to hire a contractor. 

For example, before hiring a remodeler for a kitchen remodel, ask them about their:

  • Experience working with kitchen layouts similar to yours. This can help you determine if the remodeler has the expertise to meet your requirements.
  • Pricing structure and what it includes. This can help you avoid unexpected costs that may arise during the project.
  • Process for ensuring quality control during the project. With this, you can feel confident in their ability to deliver a high-quality finished product.

Questions You Need to ask your remodeling company

The below list includes all the questions necessary to ask for your home improvement project. 

We have collated this list based on our discussions with homeowners we interact with and also our professional expertise. 

Question 1: How long have you been in business as a home remodeler? 

Some remodelers may prefer to bank on a few great referrals or their academics. But experience is more important in the remodeling industry.

Know from your remodeler what types of projects they have worked on. For instance, a remodeler may have a great track record with kitchens, but a bathroom may not be their expertise. 

Make sure that the candidate is not a new home builder posing as a remodeler. New home construction and remodeling are different with respect to process and design skills. 

The length of time a remodeler has been in the business will potentially give you:

  • Some confidence that the remodeler is capable of fulfilling your vision and is not bluffing.
  • A sense of the level of professionalism from the remodeler.

Question 2: What services do you offer?

Remodelers differ from each other with respect to the capabilities and services they offer. Some remodelers may be all-rounders. They offer a bouquet of services: kitchen remodeling, bathroom remodeling, basement finishing, and complete interior design. Others may be specialized in a specific domain.

Question 3: What sets your remodeling company apart from others in the industry?

On the surface it may seem like all remodelers do the same thing — tear things down and build things up. But, how they do things, as is the way of planning and executing, sets them apart. 

It’s good if the remodeler is a member of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI). NARI membership means the remodeling contractor is professional, ethical, and adheres to industry standards.

Choose a remodeler whose process and personality are professional and who you can rely on.

Choosing the right remodeling firm
A sample remodeling plan.

Question 4: What is your remodeling experience with projects similar to mine?

It’s always good to choose a remodeler who has worked previously on the type of home renovation project you are planning. This can give you some confidence in their capabilities and the quality of their work. 

Request photos of similar projects they have completed.

Question 5: Am I in an area where you work?

Some contractors may take up projects only in certain ZIP codes, while others are fine traveling to far areas. Some may take up a project in far areas only if it is large. 

When remodelers limit their geographic range, it means faster response times for homeowners. This can be a plus aspect, particularly for warranty work. 

Question 6: Can you work with my timeline?

It’s important to know how soon the remodeler can:

  • Start your project.
  • Get the plans, permitting, and material selections completed.

This discussion can help you plan the project schedule and finances better.

Your remodeled home awaits
A picture showing a completed remodel.

Question 7: Can you provide references from previous clients?

Get a list of references who have had similar home renovation projects completed. Ask them

  • About their experience with the remodeler.
  • If they would recommend them for your project.

Question 8: Do you have a general contractor’s license and liability insurance?

Licensing ensures that the remodeler is:

  • Qualified to perform certain types of work.
  • Is knowledgeable about building codes and safety regulations.

Also, it gives homeowners a legitimate avenue to review complaints or issues in the remodeler’s work history. 

Insurance provides protection for the homeowner and for the employees completing the work. It covers damages or injuries incurred during the project. It also eliminates the use of personal home insurance. 

A credible remodeler must be licensed and insured. Ask the remodeler to show proof of their license and insurance. Make sure they have the updated version of their license and insurance.

Question 9: Do you work on a bid-basis, estimate, or a time and materials basis?

A bid is a fixed price for the scope of work. An estimate is a loose ballpark or range of the costs. A time and materials contract specifies hourly labor rates and materials costs.

Some remodelers may prefer only one of these approaches. So, this is an important issue to clear up early.

Question 10: Do you Work with a written Remodeling contract? 

A written contract is essential for protecting both you and the remodeler in case things go south. It can also serve as the basis for neutral negotiation in case of differing opinions. A good remodeling contract should include the:

  • Scope of the project.
  • Timeline.
  • Payment schedule.

Question 11: How do you manage project concerns? 

Even the best-planned projects can run into unexpected issues. This can give you a good idea of:

  • Whether the remodeler is meticulous or spontaneous.
  • How the remodeler will handle the project from start to finish. 
  • The steps the remodeler takes to meet the project timelines.

Question 12: Who will be in charge of the project? 

It’s important to know right from the start who your point of contact will be — a project manager or the remodeler.

Project Manager talking to homeowners about a remodel
A Project Manager talking to homeowners about a remodel.

Be sure that the concerned person (remodeler or manager) will be available on-site. For this, ask the following questions:

  • How many projects does the person supervise regularly?
  • ,Do they have other responsibilities too, like:
    • Meeting with new potential clients.
    • Developing business.
    • Handling warranty work.
    • Managing sub-contractors.
    • Estimating projects.

Question 13: Who is responsible for designing the space? 

If your project demands interior designing, it is important to know if

  • The work will be done in-house or by a company unrelated to the contractor.
  • You can choose designs from a portfolio.
  • The cost of the design is included in the estimated budget upfront.
  • You can consult a professional to choose materials and colors or you are on your own.

You must be comfortable with the designer and also confident of their abilities.

Question 14: Do you hire sub-contractors or do all the contractors work for your company?

Typically, the project’s size determines who does the work. 

For some small-scale projects, a remodeler may provide in-house expertise. For larger projects (master bathroom remodel, house renovation), a remodeler may bring in specific expertise from outside.

In case, the remodeler plans to rope in a sub-contractor, make sure that the sub-contractor

  • Is credible and meets the mandatory checks.
  • Is aware of the project’s vision and your preferences.
  • Doesn’t compromise the project timelines.

Question 15: How long do you estimate the project will take?

This can give you a realistic idea of the project duration. Plus, when you ask this question to different remodelers before choosing one, you can gauge a candidate’s credibility and integrity.

Question 16: Can you provide a detailed estimate? 

Every remodeler estimates projects differently. Some charge for detailed estimates. Some will estimate only after being hired for the project. Others provide information free of charge.

It’s best to ask for a detailed estimate. A detailed estimate typically includes all aspects of the project, including materials, labor, and other costs. This knowledge can help you:

  • Budget better for the project.
  • Avoid any surprises in the final bill.
remodeling scope
A remodeler should always give you a complete breakdown of costs beforehand.

Question 17: What is your payment schedule?

Some remodeling firms allow you to pay in batches. You could make the payment schedule according to deliverables or a fixed duration of time. For instance, you could either split up the payment in 4 parts and pay that monthly or ask your remodeling company to structure it according to the progression of the remodel. They get one part of the payment before the bathtub is installed, another after the tiling has been installed, and so on.

Make sure the terms of this payment schedule are clarified and set in a contract beforehand. This will help you:

  • Plan your finances accordingly.
  • Avoid any delays in the project.

Question 18: What is the warranty for the work? 

Most remodelers offer a minimum warranty of 1 year in most jurisdictions. Some remodelers offer longer terms for their warranties. Others sell extended warranties. 

Understand the terms and conditions of the warranty. Hire the remodeler only if you agree with these. In case you want to extend the warranty beyond the minimum period, let the remodeler know in advance. You’ll likely need to pay an extra charge for this, but it can be worth it to protect your peace of mind.

Question 19: Do you allow homeowners to supply materials or do some of the work themselves?

If you hire a general contractor, you get this flexibility. However, most reputable full-service remodeling companies work with full packages that include labor costs, costs of materials, and also warranties. They may allow you to pick and choose the materials and brands from their own catalogs or retail options in their showrooms, but you can’t pick up random fixtures from a bathroom supply store — and expect it to be accommodated.

Please note that general contractors and home remodeling companies have two completely different offerings. The former offers just labor, while the latter offers design expertise and also the convenience of having everything taken care of for you. Buying materials from a supply store yourself or doing the work yourself kind of also negates the convenience of having it done for you by an expert.

Usually, remodelers are not comfortable having homeowners execute parts of the project as it may affect the project schedule. It’s good to discuss this aspect with the remodeler before starting work as you may be able to negotiate some of this stuff beforehand. Make sure it’s put in writing to avoid future disputes.

If you are financing the project with a loan, the lender may require that only the contractor perform the work. Confirm this criterion with your lender.

A DIY Project gone wrong
A DIY Project gone wrong. Most remodelers won’t allow DIY to avoid their reputation being tarnished

Question 20: How do you ensure the safety and cleanliness of the job site?

Choosing the right remodeling firm
choosing the wrong remodeling company can leave you with an unusable home.

It’s good to check with the remodeler:

  • How they will protect your home during the renovation.
  • Ensure that the job site is clean and safe for your family.

This ensures the safety and comfort of your family in your home while the project is being undertaken. You don’t want existing fixtures or materials to have paint splashes, for instance. Ask them about measures they take to prevent uncomfortable situations that can make living in your house unbearable during that time. 

If the scale of the project is huge, it’s also possible that you would need to make alternative arrangements. Ask your home remodeler what they think you should do, and try to reach a consensus before work begins.

Question 21: How do you ensure quality control during the project?

Make sure that the remodeler has a process in place to ensure that the finished product meets your standards. This can include regular inspections, a dedicated project manager, or third-party inspections. 

Warranties also factor into this as they offer some level of reassurance that the materials are going to be long-lasting. Your contract should also have measures that outline steps that you can undertake in case the project turns out to be horribly far off from your expectations.

Hire the Right Remodeling Contractor for Your Home

By asking the right questions, you can ensure that you hire a credible, reliable, and skilled contractor for your remodeling project. AIR Kitchen & Bath Center meets all these criteria — and we are happy to chat with you about all of these things before we work togethert. 

Book a free home estimate and let’s talk about all your reservations about the project. We’ll do our best to put you at ease, even if you decide to go another way.

You may also like:

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Here’s What You Should Know About Kitchen Remodeling Cost in 2023

Bathroom Remodeling Costs In Atlanta in 2023

 

Korede E. Adeboye is the owner and CEO of A.I.R Kitchen and Bath. He holds a CRPM (Certified Residential Property Manager) certification and has over 10 years of experience in the real estate industry. Korede is an expert in residential property management and has a strong background in customer service, and business development. He is passionate about providing quality kitchen and bath remodeling services to clients and is dedicated to achieving their satisfaction.

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