| Surplus Warehouse
Expert Contributor

When you hire a contractor, you start on a sometimes long, frustrating, and expensive journey with this professional.

Ideally, you end up with a an investment property that is expertly restored and up to code, all on the timeline and for the price agreed to. Your best chance of making this happen is by carefully vetting contractors as you shop around for estimates. Here are some key questions to ask:


discount flooring warehouseWhat are your qualifications?

The ideal contractor is both accredited and experienced with this particular kind of job. You will probably be able to call the state or national accrediting agency to verify the professional is a member in good standing. If your contractor can give you the contact information of other clients who he worked for, follow up on it. These people can be valuable sources of information, both on the contractor's professionalism and the quality of work delivered.


What will this cost?

Ask for itemized price estimates when scouting out contractors and examine them closely. Keep in mind that the cheapest option may not be the best. Do you see any steeply underpriced items? On the other hand, a more expensive estimate may be accurate if this contractor included something vital that the others missed.


What are your concerns about this project?

Once the contractor has familiarized himself with the property and worked out an estimate, ask this question. A true professional should have in mind potential trouble spots, unknown factors currently covered by the existing flooring, and worst-case scenarios based on his experience with similar jobs in the area. This will also give you an idea of how the project might increase in scope.


installing laminate flooring DIYHow do you prefer to be paid?

A request for cash only is a red flag, as it leaves no proof of payment and might land you in a sticky legal situation. Checks, money orders, loan financing, and credit cards are standard. You should also check that the contractor wants payment made out to the business, not to an individual. Otherwise, their business license may not cover the job at hand and you could be on the hook for liability.


What is the project's timeline?

This typically includes the payment schedule; at what points you will need to make decisions about what will be done, and when the job should be completed. It's typical to give a down payment as a show of good faith at the start of the project. Other payments may occur when important stages in the job are completed. The final payment is made only after the job is 100% finished and the property owner is satisfied.


What does the contract cover?

Make sure you ask the contractor any questions you have before signing anything. The contract may include timelines, delegating who is responsible for permits and scheduling inspections, change orders, and a broom clause. Change orders are legal language that allow the contract to be modified if something is uncovered that will require additional work to fix. These modifications should be done in writing and signed by both contractor and client. The broom clause assures that the contractor cleans up when they're done.


Shakti S. has been a freelance writer since 2012 and has a strong background in English with experience in copywriting, editing, and translations. She has taken on DIY projects and worked with professional designers and home repair agencies, and continues to learn more about home and yard decoration, maintenance, and repair.