Ten questions you must ask your contractor

Hiring a contractor? All contractors are not created equal. Communication is critical and easier than ever before, but you should be prepared with at least these questions for your initial meeting:

1. What sets your company apart from your competition, and what is your business philosophy?

2. Can you provide current proof of state/local licensure and proper insurance?

3. Do you have a comprehensive list of references from past and present projects, including customers, suppliers, professionals you work with such as engineers, architects, sub-contractors, bankers, etc.?

4. How will your company ensure we have the best value for our project cost?

5. If remodeling, are you EPA-certified for Remodel, Repair and Paint (RRP)?

6. How do you guarantee your work; what type of warranty; how will you provide support if I need it in the future?

7. What do "quality" and "integrity" mean to you and does that resonate throughout your company?

8. Who will be directly supervising and working on my project, what experience and/or licensing do they have, and how do I communicate with them?

9. Under what circumstances will my contract price be subject to change, how are change orders priced and will you explain the process?

10. Can you tell me about other similar projects you have completed or are currently working on and can we visit them with you?

Be careful when selecting price as your primary deciding factor, but be sure to ask questions about how the contractors arrived at their numbers. Typically the responsibility of the quality contractor is to show their experience and expertise in these situations, even though their prices are going to be higher initially.

The lower bid at first may look appealing, but the contractors who understand the entire process are there to assist you from the start. Find out how they solve problems, help you through change orders, suggest efficient solutions, and work with you to achieve or exceed your desired results before you hire a contractor.

I want to thank these contractors for their efforts in compiling this list: Roger Widing, Widing Custom Homes; Sean Duperron, Great Northern Homes; Jeffrey Aiken, D&W Mechanical; Steve Sanborn, Drywall Dynamics, Inc.; Marc Burkholder, Burkholder Construction.

Deward R. Knapp, owner of Contractorsyoucantrust.com, has 10 years of professional architectural experience (in Michigan and Colorado). BN