Questions for a Contractor or Home Repair Specialist

Part of the How To Fix Everything For Dummies Cheat Sheet

When getting bids from a professional for a home repair project, make sure you know exactly what the job entails. Research your contractor, like calling the BBB to see if any complaints are filed, before you sign a contract. Before hiring anyone for your home repairs, make sure you ask these questions:

  • Do you have a list of referrals? Ask for names and phone numbers of people that had similar work that the contractor or specialist completed.

  • How long have you been in business? Sometimes contractors want to retire and sell an established business with a good reputation, but there’s no guarantee that the new owner will know as much or be as good.

  • Can I see your certificates of insurance? You want to know that the contractor is licensed and bonded, and that he or she carries workman’s compensation insurance.

  • Who will do the actual work, the contractor, an employee, or an independent contractor retained by the company? If the contractor outsources the job, that might entail potential risk on your part if that person is injured.

  • Can I have a detailed contract? It should describe the project in detail and what materials and products will be used, as well as labor costs, and the contractor’s name, address, phone number, and license numbers with the city and state.

  • Can I buy the materials myself and getting them delivered to my home? You might save money that way.

  • How long will the project take? Get a specific date for starting and ending the project.

  • Who is responsible for cleaning up after the project is completed? If it’s the contractor, make sure you have it in writing.

  • Is a building permit needed for the work? Make sure the contractor will get it.

  • Can I have a warranty on work and materials? Is it a full warranty on repair or replacement of the product and for how long — 90 days or a year?

  • Can I establish a payment schedule for work that will take some time to complete? Never agree to pay all costs up front because if you’re dissatisfied with the work, you’ll never be able to get the contractor back to your home.

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