Hiring a contractor is one of the most important decisions you can make with your house. After all, this person will be put in charge of making major changes in your home, and it’s important to vet them as carefully as possible. But instead of asking the normal questions that everyone already knows — such as questions about how their estimate and contract work — we give you a guide of questions you may not think to ask.
Question 1: Do Any of Your Crew Smoke?
In the United States, everyone has the freedom to smoke without being ostracized for it. After all, smoking is not causatively related to how well a person can perform a certain task. It may be a particular smelly addiction, but it doesn’t affect a person’s work ability the way an alcohol or drug addiction does.
However, when it comes to your contractor and crew, finding out who smokes is something you should do right off the bat. Explain it in a way such as you don’t mind, but would rather they keep it outside and on the sidewalk. You’re going to be having brand new materials put up on your house, and the last thing you want is the oils and chemicals from cigarette smoke getting on them.
Question 2: What’s Your Work Routine and Schedule Like?
As long as someone’s able to meet their goals and get the job done efficiently, well and on time, how they work doesn’t really matter. Everyone has different work styles and demanding someone else what works best for you is like trying to fit one sweater onto all sorts of body shapes and sizes.
But…you do want to actually know how they’ll be working, especially if you’re one of million of Americans who leave home to go to work. Will they arrive before you’re setting off to work, or do they have to pick up supplies first? Do they clean up after themselves each day, or get rid of everything in one fell swoop once the project is finished? Asking this question can help you determine which contractor would be the best fit for you.
Question 3: What Kinds of Warranties Can You Offer?
There’s a reason why selling warranties for TVs, cars, and other high-priced items is stronger than ever: people are hesitant about spending so much money and having it potentially go to waste so quickly. It’s a form of security that gives you peace of mind, even if warranties have been shown to be little more than a money grab.
Asking your contractor this question, though, is different: it’s a way of getting exactly what you want in a fair way, and ensuring the job gets finished according to schedule. Put yourself in the contractor’s shoes for a second and imagine signing a warranty that specifies 10% less cost each day the job goes over schedule. Wouldn’t you be hustling to make sure that doesn’t happen?
Bonus: Go for a Drive with the Contractor
How someone drives says everything about their personality. Do they have a lead foot and refuse to let anyone merge? Or do they veer completely the other way, letting drivers have their way on the road and cowering behind the wheel?
Take a little trip with the contractor before you sign on the dotted line, and really pay attention to the kind of person they become. And remember to check out the state of their vehicle: is there rust showing, or is it in fairly good shape on the exterior? And what’s the inside like — everything scattered around, or put neatly into place?
These four questions aren’t often the first ones that spring to mind when hiring a contractor, but they’re hugely revealing ones in terms of what your contractor will be like on the job. And remember, taking a bit of time to learn about the personality of your contractor can save you big hassles down the road.