The Top 5 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Contractor

In the new reality show “Catch a Contractor,” comedian Adam Carolla and a team of construction experts track down negligent contractors and try to get them to finish jobs they either abandoned or shoddily completed.

The series was inspired by the fact that millions of homeowners hire contractors to complete renovation and remodeling projects each Reviewing plansyear in America. Most are satisfied with the work that is done; but a large and growing number become victims, duped by incompetent, often unlicensed “contractors” who take the money and run.

To avoid this unpleasant, potentially dangerous scenario, make sure you ask these five questions before you hire a contractor.

1. How long have you been working in this area?

Unscrupulous contractors are a lot like the snake oil salesmen of the Wild West, in that they never stick around long enough for people to find out they’re frauds. Instead, they split town and relocate to a place where nobody knows them. They are then free to hoodwink a whole new group of homeowners. That is why you should only ever consider a contractor who has a sterling reputation in your local community, since they actually have something to lose if they don’t do a bang-up job.

2. How long will it take you?

Because of the nature of the job, it is quite common for contractors to work on several different projects at the same time, which is fine. But when unexpected complications arise, deadlines and schedules must be adjusted. As the homeowner, the last thing you want is for a job to take weeks, even months longer than you were told. Not only is it a major inconvenience for you and your family, but costs can easily spiral out of control when the timeline is continually extended. Therefore, you should always let the contractor know from the get-go that you are firm on the schedule they initially give you.

3. What is your payment schedule?

When a contractor gives you an estimate for a job, he/she should stick as close to that price as they possibly can. The best way to protect yourself from surprise, possibly even exorbitant invoices, is to agree on a payment schedule that involves initial, progress, and final payments. That way, you will be able to keep track of costs as they happen rather than letting them accumulate behind the scenes.

4. What are your references?

As we mentioned, there are hacks out there that have no business calling themselves contractors, let alone offering their services to the public. The easiest and most effective way to weed them out is to always ask for references, specifically from homeowners in your areaContractor . If the contractor cannot or will not provide them, simply move on to the next applicant.

5. Can I find you online?

Not all contractors have their own web addresses, but you should be able to find some information about them online. In particular, you should look for testimonials from former clients and reviews from the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
All of the above questions are incredibly simple, straightforward, and should be a cinch for any qualified contactor to answer. Even so, a lot of homeowners don’t ask them because they want to trust people. Our advice? Don’t! Ask the pertinent questions and protect your investment.