Hiring the right remodeling company is not easy. You want to ensure that the contractor has the experience and know-how to handle your remodel, and that their style of communication and customer service suits your needs. You can increase the chances of success by conducting a qualifying interview, following up on references and credentials, and looking at all aspects of the remodeling project. To make this task easier, here are the 14 essential questions you need to ask when hiring a remodeler.
How long have you been in business?
Trust a company with a long history in the industry. Surviving in today’s market is a difficult task; those who lasted have been proven successful. Most remodelers are proud of their history and will be glad to share it with you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Are you a design/build firm?
A design/build remodeling firm has an architect in house who can draw up your plans. This firm will help you with the design process and be able to make modifications if an issue of design arises. Remodelers that do not have “design” in their name require an outside architect to design and modify your project. If your project is large, requires multiple changes, or additions, it is best to hire a design/build remodeler.
Are you a full-service or specialty remodeler?
Specialty remodelers concentrate on one area of remodeling, such as bathrooms or kitchens. A full-service remodeling company can handle large projects like a whole-house remodel or addition as well as smaller projects.
How many projects have you completed in the past 12 months? How many like mine?
When hiring a remodeler, get a feel for the volume of work the company performs, and ask questions specifically about projects similar to yours. Look for companies with a volume of work with a project like yours.
What percentage of your business is repeat business?
You want to hire a remodeling company with highly-satisfied customers, and this is indicated by the numbers of clients who return as repeat customers. Most reputable remodeling companies can report that at least 50% of their business comes from repeat clients, with some even up to 90% of their total annual sales.
Are any of your employees certified remodelers?
Remodelers are required to meet certain industry standards to achieve and maintain certifications. The National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) offers six designations: Certified Remodeler (CR), Master Certified Remodeler (MCR), Certified Kitchen & Bath Remodeler (CKBR); Certified Lead Carpenter (CLC); Certified Remodeling Project Manager (CRPM); and Universal Design Certified Professional (UDCP). Often, these designations are listed following the person’s name in marketing materials and on business cards. When hiring a remodeler, ask if the company is a NARI member as well. This will give you an idea of their professional status.
Can I see copies of your license and insurance coverage?
A reputable remodeling company will gladly provide copies of its Class A Contractor’s license, local licenses, and proof of workers’ compensation and liability insurance coverage. Do your due diligence and check these records against their issuing authority to ensure that they are current and that there are no complaints against the business.
Can I contact some previous clients?
Getting testimonials from and contacting previous clients will enable you to ask questions about not only the work, but the customer experience working with this remodeling company. The remodeling company should be able to provide you with several past clients you can contact—at least three. You can ask these references if you can arrange a visit to see the finished job. Do an online search as well for the company’s reputation and reviews. Are the reviews current? Additional professional references can include not only past clients, but suppliers, financial institutions and subcontractors. They can provide you information on the remodeler’s credit history and any issues with nonpayments.
Do you have in-house design services?
An in-house designer will use their interior design training to help you make all those design decisions like choosing cabinetry, tile, flooring, paint colors, etc.
What is your approach to a project like mine?
Most remodelers have a system for reaching job completion that includes communication, delivery, materials selection, manpower, and payments. Does their system work for you?
What are your time frames on my job?
Ask when the remodeler can work you into their schedule, and find out their estimate for job completion. Ask what normal work hours are: when crews begin and end work. If there are delays, ask how you will be informed and how they will be handled.
What is the permit process?
Permits are required for building projects, and failure of the remodeling company to acquire proper permits can be illegal or in violation of zoning laws or regulations. Without a proper permit, an inspector (also required) can require a project to be demolished if it does not meet standard requirements. Ask the remodeler questions about who will acquire permits and when. Ensure that permits are in place before initiating work.
Who will be assigned to supervise my job?
You will work closely this this person, so find out if you will have a dedicated project manager assigned to your account. Ask who you should contact if your project manager is not available. Get names and phone numbers.
The most important question to ask yourself…
The last question, and the most important, is how you feel about working with this remodeling firm. Do you feel a synergy? Do you trust them? Do you like their work? You and your remodeler will work as a team for several months to come. You’ll want to feel comfortable in the relationship, so ask this remodeler your questions.
Thinking about hiring a remodeler? Schedule a free consultation with Schroeder Design/Build.
If you are remodeling a residential or commercial property in Northern Virginia, we’ll be glad to speak with you and answer any questions you have about hiring our remodeling company or the remodeling process in general.