Questions You Should Be Asking A Contractor Before You Renovate

Speaking with contractors about your home improvement project can help put a more substantial face on your vision for your property and its future. It's often a good idea to talk to more than one general contractor to price out quotes for the work you are seeking to complete as well, with Angi suggesting at least three.

Talking with contractors will give you a good idea of the overall price for any work you're considering, helping you create a better handle on the budget. However, contractors are also professional fabricators and installation wizards. They can help you make sense of any tricky components and even work with you to design a better flow in the space for built-in segments and other additions you're thinking of making in the home.

The project specifics are obviously one aspect of the initial consultation, but many other questions should make their way into this conversation to give you the best possible start to a home renovation. The Canadian Home Builders' Association notes that homeowners should ask about qualifications and references in addition to specifics regarding their particular job. Focusing on these question areas will help you make the most of any home improvement project while working with a fair, experienced, and helpful contractor.

Qualifications, areas of expertise, and subcontractors

The first questions that any homeowner should focus on when interviewing a contractor for their renovation needs revolve around the person's expertise and experience, American Financing says. Qualifications can vary, and many contractors will be able to show you license numbers or documentation to support their professionalism in the industry. You should be focusing on licensed and insured contractors when considering people for your remodeling work.

Along with basic qualifications, it's a good idea to become acquainted with the specializations that the professional brings to the table. For example, someone who has installed many granite countertops in their time might be the perfect choice for a kitchen remodel, but less so if your focus is on creating a new home office. Understanding the specialization of a contractor can help make your decision more precise and support the needs of your personal remodeling project.

Lastly, contractors often work with other experts to quickly and professionally complete a job. Therefore, it is a great idea to talk to a contractor about the other people they may bring into the fold; this will help you gain a sense of the pricing right off the bat and provide additional context for the additional resources that will be required to finish your renovation.


You never want to walk away from a conversation with a new contractor without asking for references. Contractors worth their salt are more than willing to provide the names of some of their previous clients. Calling these people to speak about the quality of the team's work and the customer's experience can give you a good baseline for how your project may proceed with that particular contractor, Canadian Home Builders' Association says.

But, it's important to take your search one step further. Contractors will give you a list of happy clients who were highly satisfied with the work provided and willing to vouch for that work. Reading reviews about the professional and searching for any projects they may be working on at the moment can give you a more in-depth accounting of their true skill level and customer service traits.

Once you sign a contract with the chosen contractor, you're locked into that decision. So make sure you take the time to research your options as broadly as possible in order to make the right hire for each new home improvement project you have in the works.

Estimates regarding price and time

In your discussion with contractors, the focus will be on the whole project. However, digging into the weeds a little will help you better understand the costs and time required to complete your home remodel. Therefore, estimates should include details about both elements to provide a complete picture of the undertaking.

Squaring estimates with an average price guideline will give you the greatest clarity when sourcing quotes from qualified contractors in your local area, HomeAdvisor notes. Using these kinds of estimation tools, in addition to a true quote from a local professional, can guide you toward a great deal on your next home improvement project. However, it's essential to remember that every contractor is different. No two professionals will approach the workspace or job workflow in the same manner, even as the material requirements and finished product may be almost identical, no matter who you hire.

Therefore, understanding how much a project will cost and how long it should take to complete are two of the most important pieces of information you should take away from any meeting with a prospective contractor. These variables will be the most fluid among different contractor options you'll find, so matching these along with expertise levels and experience found in any particular person will give you the best start to your project.

Suggestions on your plan

Contractors bring a lot of area-specific knowledge to the table. They know how to create sturdy installations, apply for permits, and outsource key aspects of the job to other trusted professionals they subcontract out to on a regular basis.

Yet, one of the most important features of a great contractor is their willingness to weigh in on your design and vision (via Canadian Home Builders' Association). Contractors have typically worked on various types of homes and projects that range in complexity. Asking for their opinion on your renovation ideas can help get the ball rolling on the best course of action. 

You likely have little to no experience in this space, so your mockups and doodles are simply concepts you've taken from rooms you've been in, internet searches, and other inspiration. Translating these visions into real, functional spaces is the contractor's task, and if they are tight-lipped about how they'll do this, they might not be the right person for the job.

Ask for a contract to crystallize the terms

Contracts are the bedrock of great home renovation projects. You'll speak at length about the parameters and expectations of the job, but when it comes time to finalize the arrangement with your contractor, a paper contract is a standard and an essential step forward. Find Law says that crystallizing the agreement in a true contract should be a priority for any homeowner. Fortunately, most general contractors are not in the business of hurting their clients and will offer up a standard contract without hesitation.

It's important to read through the agreement and make notes of any sticking points that may arise throughout the terms. For instance, you'll want to discuss how and when you will make payment. Paying for the service is one of the most important features of the contract, and structuring the financial elements in a way that protects your interests as the client and ensures that the professional won't have to fight you for what they are owed will set everyone involved at ease, allowing for a smooth flow of work at all times.

You'll also want to include stipulations regarding the timeline for work, including penalties for late completion of the whole project or essential checkpoints throughout the build. This keeps the team working diligently on your home improvement and dissuades a contractor from splitting time at multiple job sites.