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Best Questions to Ask When Hiring a Contractor

Are you planning to hire a contractor this spring or summer to complete a home renovation project such as a bath, kitchen or basement remodel? If you are, we’d like to share some tips and best practices with you, including key questions to ask the contractor during the interview phase.

Did you know that right now is an excellent time to remodel? Due to the improved real estate market home values have increased and many homeowners have seen a rise in home equity, affording the opportunity to liquidate a portion of the equity for the purpose of making home improvements. marv-and-neal-(1).jpgRemodeling contractors are more motivated these days, willing to take smaller jobs and pricing their work competitively to stay busy.

Some of the popular projects homeowners are tackling include upgrades such as a new closet system, or a basement remodel including a new wood ceiling. These projects add a dramatic new look at a reasonable price. The following are a few tips and best practices for you as you begin to search for a competent contractor to hire.

Obtain Referrals from Trusted Sources
When hiring a home improvement contractor, it’s important to be cautious. While the recent economic slowdown has removed some of the less reputable contractors from the marketplace, there are still many who do not operate within the law. "The contractors who are still standing are more likely to be those who have been around longer, who are more professional, who produce more accurate bids, and who are better at customer relations," says Harvard's Kermit Baker in This Old House. The best way to locate a field of competent contractors to interview is by asking friends, relatives, neighbors, and co-workers for references.

Determine the Scope of the Project
It’s wise to take the time to plan the scope of work for your remodeling project in order to sequence and coordinate everything. You may be hiring a variety of home improvement professionals, including contractors, specialty contractors and service people.  For example, if the scope of work involves the installation of a WoodTrac closet system or wood ceiling, you may save money by hiring a handyman rather than a licensed building contractor.

Questions for the InterviewNeal-g.jpg
The following are important topics to address in contractor interviews:

·       List of recent references and length of time in business

·       Status with the Better Business Bureau and other consumer agencies

·       List of similar projects completed recently

·       Status of state licensing and registration for the contractor and any subcontractors, if necessary

·       Are building permits required?  If they are, the contractor should obtain them. His or her licensure status will be verified in the process of obtaining permits.

·       Does the contractor have personal liability, worker’s compensation, and property damage insurance coverage? Obtain written verification prior to signing a contract.

·       Verify acceptable payment arrangements, including periodic payments associated with the progress in the work and a portion of the final payment retained until final inspection is completed.

For larger projects, you may consider having multiple contractors bid on the work. says, “If you solicit bids from several different home improvement contractors, be sure they are bidding on the same scope and quality of work. Discuss variations in bids and beware of any bid that is substantially lower than the others.”

While ultimate satisfaction with your remodeling project will come from selecting and installing the best available products, hiring a reliable contractor is critical to the success of your project. For more information about WoodTrac master and reach-in closet systems and wood ceiling systems, please visit
Posted: April 24, 2014

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Sauder Woodworking
502 Middle St.
Archbold, OH 43502
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