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Bryan Baeumler’s Hiring a Contractor Checklist

Key questions you need to ask to get the results you want

Hiring a contractor is eerily similar to dating and getting married—it's all fun and games at the beginning when things are exciting and new. But once the contracts are signed, if things go sideways, it can get very nasty and expensive, fast! At the end of the day, the most important component of a marriage—and a homeowner/contractor relationship—is trust and communication. With that in mind, here are some key questions you should ask before hiring a contractor. (And some of them might be OK to ask your date, too!)

1.Are you insured? Licensed? Up-to-date with Workers’ Compensation?

2.How long have you been in business? Is this your first business?

3.Can I call a client or two to ask about your work?

4.Tell me about one or two clients that weren't happy. What went wrong? (This is a good way to gauge honesty—there isn't a contractor on the planet who hasn't had a bad experience or made a mistake, and they should be willing to admit it. The key to the answer is in what solutions were implemented and what lessons were learned.)

5.Can I call some trade references: your sub trades and suppliers? (Anyone worth their salt will have suppliers and other trades that know, and will reference them.)

6.If it’s a new build by a licenced residential builder, ask if they are covered by mandatory, third-party home warranty insurance. It’s required by law.

7.Your quote or estimate should be broken down and clearly lay out expectations for both sides. If it’s not, ask them to break it down for you.

8.Can you give me a timeline for the start, major progress dates and completion of the renovation?

9.What kind of schedule should I expect? Do you start at 7 a.m., or 11a.m.? Do you work weekends?

10.Who will be coming to my house? How long have they been employed with you? How did you meet or hire them? What experience and qualifications do they have?

11.Is your work guaranteed? Is there a warranty? What are the terms and limitations?

12.What is your home address? (Hey, they know where YOU live!)

13.What is the procedure for invoicing and payments, and what happens if there's a disagreement in billing?

This list of questions should get you started on the path to finding the right contractor. At the end of the day, always remember that anyone on your short list MUST be licensed, insured, covered by Workers’ Compensation, offer a warranty on their work, be well referenced both by customers, suppliers and trades and offer a clear and concise contract with proof of credentials such as licensing and insurance.

You should feel free to keep asking questions until you're comfortable with all of the information you've been given and comfortable with your decision. If your Spidey sense is tingling, there's usually a reason. And don’t forget, the most important question of all: What's your favourite show on HGTV? Ha!