Interviewing a Remodeler - What Questions Should You Ask
Copyright © The National Association of the Remodeling Industry
The following questions will help you establish a company's qualifications and reputation, and help
you find the right person for your job.
How long have you been in business?
Look for a company with an established business history in your community. Surviving in any business
in today's competitive marketplace is a difficult task. Most successful contractors are proud of
their history in the industry.
What is your approach to a project of this scope?
This will give you an idea of how the contractor works and what to expect during the project. Listen
carefully to the answer. This is one of the big indicators of the company's work ethic.
How do you operate?
In other words, how is your firm organized? Do you have employees or do you hire subcontractors? If
you do have employees, what are their job descriptions? Do you use a project supervisor or lead
carpenter to oversee the project? You should know what parts of your project will be handled by
staff, and which will be contracted out to subcontractors.
How experienced are your employees and subcontractors?
Find out how long the contractor has worked with the employees and subcontractors who will be on
your job. A contractor who has experienced employees and long-term subcontractor relationships
knows he or she can trust these people to deliver consistent results.
Is your company a full service or specialty firm?
If you are planning a small project, say replacing the bathroom plumbing, you may be better off
hiring a specialty plumbing firm or a bathroom remodeler. However, if your project involves multiple
changes, entire rooms or additions, you should consult a full service or design-build firm.
Do you have design services available?
If you are considering a large or involved project, you will need design services. If the contractor
does not have design-build capabilities, you should consider hiring an architect. Depending on the
size and scope of the project, you may need an architect or structural engineer.
Are you licensed and bonded to do business in this state, and does your company carry workers
compensation and liability insurance?
In Washington you can check this information by visiting the Department of Labor and Industries
This is a good way to know you're dealing with a reputable contractor in good standing with the state.
Are your company's employees certified?
The contractor's employees should have current First Aid and CPR certification. It's also important
for site supervisors to have OSHA training, to ensure your project follows all safety and
May I have a list of references for projects you have completed which are similar to mine?
The contractor should be able to supply you with a minimum of three references, including names,
telephone numbers and addresses. As a follow up to this question, ask how long ago the project was
completed and if the contractor can arrange a visit to see the finished job.
What percentage of your business is repeat or referral business?
This will give you a good indication about the company's customer satisfaction. According to
research conducted by NARI, most remodeling businesses attribute over 50 percent of their annual
volume to customer referrals; some even claim up to 90 percent or more of their total annual sales.
How many projects like mine have you completed in the past 12 months?
This will help you determine the contractor's familiarity with your type of project. You should
confirm that a good portion of those completed projects were similar to the type of project you are
Will we need a permit for this project?
Most cities and towns require permits for building projects. Failure to obtain the necessary permits
or to arrange obligatory inspections can be illegal. In some cases, if a project violates a zoning
law or some other regulations, it may even have to be demolished if there is no way to comply with
the law. A qualified remodeling contractor will be conscious of the permit process, and ensure that
all permits have been obtained before initiating any work.
What is the time frame for starting the project?
Now is the time to ask questions about work schedules. You should ask: What is your estimate for
completion? How early will your crew normally begin work? When will they normally quit for the day?
Will I be contacted about delays or changes in the schedule? By whom?
Of the many questions you can ask during an interview, the most important question is one you must
ask yourself: "Do I feel comfortable with and trust the person I am about to hire?"
Your answer to that question should make the hiring decision a little easier.
Reprinted by Permission
Washington state-specific questions and information provided by Blue Canyon Construction.
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