When you first make the decision to start a renovation project, build a new house, or even a simple home makeover, you undoubtedly have a lot of questions.  Maybe you’re overwhelmed with all of the choices out there in the marketplace.  Or maybe you’re not sure about who to hire to do the job.

One of the first things that you absolutely MUST do before your start is “Begin with the end in mind” (to quote Stephen Covey).  Whether you’re planning a counter top remodel or a new house, it’s important to know the outcome and quality you expect.  When you know this, you can now ask the right questions of the people helping you along the way.

If you’re one of the lucky ones who have set up appointments with different contractors, I have 7 questions to ask that can make a HUGE difference in the outcome of your design project.  They’ll make a difference in your peace of mind and in your expectations.  And they’ll also let the prospective contractor know what you expect them to provide for you.  If what you’re asking isn’t part of their business plan, they can tell you the project isn’t a good fit, and you can move on.  Nothing is more maddening than being “ghosted” by an electrician.  Or having a contractor leave a job site for weeks to go work on someone else’s project.  So here goes…

#1 Do you use sub-contractors or have full time employees?

Honestly, it’s rare that a general contractor employees someone in every trade.  If they do, the project usually goes faster…and costs more.  Finding a contractor who has been in the business for a while and has established a longstanding relationship with the trade, is worth it for peace of mind.  Because he provides a lot of consistent work, they tend to be more available when the contractor calls.

#2  When are you available to start? 

Everyone is so busy these days, with wait lists of homeowners who need work done on their homes.  Don’t be surprised if you have to wait a few months before a contractor can begin.  I’ve had several design clients who have waited a year for a highly recommended contractor.

#3  How long will my project take, from demo until you leave?

Supply chain delays are often the reason for project delays.  So no one is willing to give an exact amount of time for your project.  But they can give you an estimated time frame.  If your demo doesn’t start until all of the products have arrived, the construction time will be shorter.  But at least, by asking, you’re opening up a conversation  about time frame.

#4  Do you have a website where I can see samples of your work?  References?  Have you worked on other projects in my price range?

Your idea of excellent workmanship may be completely different than theirs.  Make sure that their sub-contractors have worked on other projects in your price range.

#5  Who is responsible for scheduling, project management and quality control?

Whether it’s the contractor, his project manager, your interior designer…or you, someone needs to be there on a regular schedule to act as your advocate.  There needs to be one person on the team who knows your design plans inside and out.  People mean well, but things slip through the cracks.

#6  How often is the job site cleaned?  Whose responsibility?

On new construction or a renovation project, make sure that your home is protected by plastic.  Not the thin dry cleaner plastic, but one that is more substantial.  Ideally, it will have a zipper for entering and exiting.  This should be applied in all the doorways to prevent dust from entering the rest of the house.

#7  Do you communicate with me on a regular basis?  Give immediate updates on materials delays?

There will be days when no one is working on your project.  In a perfect world, one trade would finish and the next one would start.  But things get in the way and it doesn’t happen like that.  Having a weekly call with your contractor will keep you up to date, let you know which subs will be there for the week, and basically keep the lines of communication open.

We all want to have our design projects turn out exactly the way we’ve dreamed.  And we also want it to happen with the least amount of stress and wasted time as possible.  Asking these 7 questions will leave you peace of mind knowing that everything has been taken care of.

Ready to Get Your Project Started?

If you’re thinking about a home renovation, whether it’s a small project or tearing down walls, you might be afraid of making mistakes that cost you a lot of extra time and money.  That’s why I’ve created 3 Costly Home Renovation Mistakes and How To Avoid Them.  All you need to do is click on the button below to download your very own copy of this F.R.E.E. guide…easy peasy!