3 Questions to Ask Your Contractor

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Questions to Ask to Avoid a Renovation Nightmare

By Ryan Horvath

Home improvements can be a stressful time, but so is trying to find a good contractor. Friends and family are a great place to start for recommendations. But once you find a few, where do you go from there? This week’s blog is covering the questions to ask your contractor. Read this before signing an agreement.

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A contractor should be able to provide an adequate business history. If your state or city requires a license, ask for proof. You can find out what your state requires by clicking here. Ask if they’re a member of a professional association like the Associated General Contractors of America. The AGC of America is an association that has been around for over a hundred years.

Their business history should include their workers’ compensation and insurance coverage. I wrote a blog that covers the different insurance coverage. You can read it by clicking here. Also, ask if they’re planning on using any subcontractors. If they do, you should get copies of the subcontractor’s policies. This is also the perfect time to see what your homeowners’ policy covers. The last thing you want is to be paying a hospital bill while paying for a renovation.

While a contractor can provide you information, it’s up to you to do your part. Before meeting with them, research the contractor. Check to see if they’ve ever filed bankruptcy or if they had legal action against them. You might be able to see what the outcomes were. These red flags show that they might not be reputable. Also, check with the Better Business Bureau to see what their rating is. Should you choose to meet with them after your research, ask for references. Don’t be afraid to reach out to their previous clients to see if they love the result.


Since your home will be chaotic, it’s nice to know when it will end. Another question to ask your contractor is how long it is going to take. Your contractor should be able to tell you a start and completion date. The completion date should also include any cleanup duties. The timetable should also include applying for permits.


Before shaking hands, be sure to get everything in writing. The written agreement should have your start and end dates. Be sure that your end date includes a broom clause. A broom clause legally binds the contractor to clean up the work site. Ask for the materials lists with the agreement. The materials list is a great tool to check around to see if the dates are workable.  A list of permits and time required for pulling them should also be included on the agreement.

It’s important to keep up-to-date on your renovation. Your written agreement can include how you’ll be informed. It can include the best way to remain in contact. Adding this to the agreement is a great way to make sure that all parties are holding up their ends.

The agreement should also have information about the down payment and payment schedule. Make sure that you keep a record of payments. This is a great way to protect yourself. Also, your payment schedule should line up with the work. It’s important to document who the check will be made out to. If it’s to the individual and not the company, that should be a red flag.


It’s important to ask these questions to your contractor. A reputable contractor will have no problem meeting your requests. After all, this is your renovation and home we’re talking about here. If they hesitate to provide any information, it’s clear they’re not the contractor for you. Doing the proper research can save you a lot of headaches down the line.

Do you have some tips you would like to share? Leave a message in the comments below!

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