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Home remodeling blog from Home Indeed in Independence, IA. Home design, renovation inspiration, and more.

Questions to Ask When Hiring a Contractor in Cedar Falls

If you’ve ever done a home remodeling project before, you know how important it is to work with a qualified, competent contractor who can effectively transform your vision into reality. If not, you’re about to find out.

Any time you hire a company for a job—home remodeling or otherwise—you’re taking a risk, and that can be a bit intimidating. You won't actually know whether the home remodeler was the best fit for your project until it’s finished and you’re satisfied with the results.

That doesn’t mean, however, you should simply pick a remodeling contractor at random. There are various ways to vet contractors in the Cedar Falls, Iowa, area, from viewing their portfolios and checking their references to reading reviews and client testimonials and verifying they have the proper certifications.

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General Contractor Interview Questions

Another critical measure to take before hiring a contractor is to ask them plenty of questions during your initial consultation. The answers your potential contracting candidates in Northern Iowa provide to these questions can help you narrow down the best choice for your project.

1. Do You Have a Contracting License and Proper Insurance?

Before anything else, you want to make sure the company you’re potentially hiring is properly licensed and insured. Ask the contractor how long they’ve been in business and for their licensing number. It should be no problem for them to also provide you with digital copies of their certificate of insurance. Another question to ask is if their company has ever operated under a different name and why it changed. Sometimes there are completely innocuous reasons why businesses alter their name—such as changing partners or new management—but it can also be a red flag that the contractor no longer wants to be associated with the reputation connected to the old business name.

2. What Is Your Remodeling Process?

Although there are a couple common construction project delivery methods—including design-build, design-bid-build, and integrated project delivery, to name a few—each company has its own unique way of doing things. They may have designers or architectural drafters in-house or contract with an architectural firm on a regular basis. Some remodeling companies only handle the construction and expect you to come with your own design plans. Even among design-build firms the process of making selections and designing a plan that fits your budget and priorities can vary. Find out exactly what your prospective contractor’s process looks like.

3. Is My Project the Kind You Do Regularly?

Along with asking, “What services do you offer?,” you should also find out if the contractor is experienced with home remodeling projects similar to yours. Although home remodeling companies may offer a variety of services, they typically specialize in a few areas. Choosing a contractor who is experienced with your type of project increases the likelihood your renovation will be accomplished accurately and efficiently. Also, if they’ve done similar past projects, they can show you pictures of their work, giving you further peace of mind.

4. What is Your Timeline for Completing this Project?

Another benefit of finding an experienced contractor is they can give you a pretty good estimate upfront of how long it will take to complete your project, assuming all things go according to plan. They can also let you know if there are current conditions, such as labor shortages or difficulty procuring certain materials, that could lead to delays. If you’re on a tight schedule let the contractor know that and ask, “Can you work with my timeline?” The only caveat is that you have to hope they will be honest, rather than simply telling you “yes” to get your business. If you want to dig a little deeper, you can ask whether there are other projects they’re currently working on that could affect the schedule and how necessary changes to the timeline will be addressed.

5. How Do You Estimate Projects?

There’s a few different ways to approach the topic of project cost during your contractor interview. If you’ve done some research to put together a preliminary budget for your kitchen or bathroom remodel, you can ask, “I think my project is in a range of $X to $Y. Is this realistic?” You can also simply ask, “How does your estimating process work?” A reputable home remodeling firm should have a solid process for figuring out and estimating costs for your project ,whether you're remodeling your kitchen, bathroom, or whole home. Additionally, most companies won’t ask for the entire payment upfront—in fact, the Better Business Bureau advises homeowners against doing so—which means you should also find out what the payment schedule is for your home remodel. Lastly, find out how additional charges will be communicated to you and dealt with.

6. How Do You Manage the Product?

This is a very important question that encompasses several individual topics. You want to find out if you’ll have a dedicated project manager and what they will specifically oversee each day. Also, does the firm work with subcontractors and are they covered by the company’s liability and worker’s compensation insurance? Another good question to ask is if the contractor will obtain the necessary permits and set up the required inspections for the home remodel. Finally, how does the company maintain the workspace and what are their processes and procedures in regards to safety and cleanliness? What steps do they take to make sure a property is protected while the project is underway? The answers to these various questions will give you a better idea of what kind of experience you can expect with this particular contractor.

7. Do You Provide a Warranty?

Another important question to ask is whether the contractor provides a warranty for their services or the materials they will be using for the project. If the answer is “yes,” find out what the warranty covers and how long it remains in effect. Once you’ve selected specific materials for your home remodel, find out if they have a manufacturer’s warranty and request a copy of the information. Additionally, what is the process for using the warranty and determining if an issue falls within its coverage?

8. Why Should I Choose Your Remodeling Company?

It never hurts to ask a home remodeling contractor to do a little self-promotion, and the answer to this question is telling. The contractor should be able to tell you what makes their company unique, as well as what things they do particularly well. The services and qualities they cite in their answer gives you a good idea of their priorities and values. The information you glean from their response can also serve as the basis for your questions to ask contractor references in order to verify the veracity of what the contractor says about themselves.

Choosing a Contractor in Cedar Falls

You shouldn’t feel reticent about thoroughly interviewing a prospective contractor for your home remodel in Northern Iowa. A confident, knowledgeable contractor won’t have a problem answering your questions and providing the information you need for peace of mind. At Home Indeed, we know how important your home renovation is to you, financially and emotionally. We are happy to discuss your home remodeling project with you, give you details of our process, and answer all your questions.



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