Monday, November 8, 2010

Questions Homeowners Should ask Potential Contractors

Timing is everything in comedy, but NOT in remodeling.
Questions ho   Questions homeowners should ask potential contractors.

Timing and money are the most common questions a home improvement contractor hears, but during an interview with a homeowner when homeowners should be asking about credentials and verifying business practices what is often heard is, “When can you start? When will it be finished? How much will it cost?"

These simply aren't enough. Yes, timing may be "everything" in comedy, but that certainly isn't the case when it comes to remodeling. If you are going to have a successful remodeling project, you need to learn the right questions to ask and how to ask them.

When a group of Greater Phoenix Chapter members of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI)  remodeling contractors were asked what questions homeowners asked most frequently, the group unanimously agreed that their most popular queries were:

When can you start?
When will you be finished?
What time will you knock on my door each morning?
What time will you quit for the day?
Are you going to work every day?
Can you finish before (insert any major holiday or significant family event)?
How much will it cost per square foot?

Unfortunately, these are not the type of questions that are going to tell homeowners much about a particular contractor.

While a reasonable timetable and budget is important, it shouldn't be the primary focus of an interview or a job. Homeowners should also focus on trust, quality, ethics and integrity. All agreed that they should start by asking questions about a company's business practices and experience in a similar type of project.

Here are 9 questions NARI members recommend every homeowners ask before signing a remodeling contract:

·  How long have they been in business?
·  Who will be assigned as project supervisor for the job?
·  Who will be working on the project? Are they employees or subcontractors?
·  Does the company carry workers compensation and liability insurance? (Always verify this information by calling the agency. A copy of an insurance certificate does not let you, the homeowner, know if the policy is still current. Even if the certificate has an expiration date, a homeowner cannot tell if the insurance has been canceled by either party. Also ask if the contractor is licensed and call to verify compliance with the law.
·  How many projects like yours have they completed in the past year?
·  Can a list of references from those projects be provided?
·  What percentage of their business is repeat or referral business?
·  Are they members of a national trade association?
·  Are they or their employees certified in remodeling or had any special training or education, such as earning a Certified Remodeler (CR), Certified Remodeler Specialist (CRS) or Certified Lead Carpenter (CLC) or Certified Kitchen & Bath Remodeler (CKBR) designation?

It's also important to realize that sometimes it's not the answers homeowners get that are significant, but what answers they don't get.

Unlike a homeowner’s accountant or stockbroker, a remodeler will be a part of a homeowner’s daily life. He or she will be privy to your personal life, more so than a homeowner’s doctor or lawyer or even a neighbor!

Remodeling can be a fun experience. Homeowners get to create their dream room or addition and learn a little about design and building along the way.

To find out more about the Greater Phoenix Chapter of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry and to see a list of members who are dedicated to the ethics and integrity of the remodeling industry, go to

Greater Phoenix NARI is a 501c6 organization.

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