7 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Contractor






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It’s the number one contractor complaint that I hear all of the time: “I hired a guy but he was flaky. He rarely showed up when he said he would and sometimes it would be days before I would hear anything from him.”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that story from clients who brought us in for later projects.

We set customers up to track our progress online so they always know when materials or a crew will be arriving, and where their project is on the timeline.

Believe me, you want to know exactly what day your bathroom is shut down and how long you’ll be brushing your teeth in the kitchen.

What a lot of people don’t realize when they hire a residential contractor in Wichita is that most of them are good guys, but they’re overloaded and underprepared.

Your typical independent contractor hops from job site to job site, checking voice mails while they drive, writing invoices on scrap paper, doing their best to keep up with the business end, but they’re not well equipped to manage people and projects — that’s not their skillsets. They just like to make things.

That can be a problem for larger projects like bathrooms or kitchens that take a lot of coordination. Those rooms have appliances and amenities you need every day. And they’re all hooked up to wiring and plumbing that might have to be shut down and rerouted. That takes special skills, planning, and scheduling.

You need a contractor that is organized and thinking about your needs, not the next place they have to be. I mean, how long do you want to go without a toilet? That’s what it comes down to sometimes.

So when you’re looking for a contractor, be prepared to ask a few questions to make sure they are up to the job. Here are some suggestions to get you started.

1. Are they licensed and insured?
Ask to see these things. Anyone can just say “yes.”

2. Ask for some references
Online testimonials are nice. A recommendation in real life is better. Ask if there is anyone you can talk to that could vouch for their work.

3. How do they handle changes in job scope?
Almost every project has an unforeseen challenge. You never know what is behind a wall that could present a problem. You may be quoted a price to complete the whole job, but how does it work when the job changes? It’s good to know upfront.

4. Who will be in my house?
When you hire a residential contractor, you’re often also hiring a number of sub-contractors (plumbers, electricians, tile guys) that the contractor regularly uses to complete the job. Who are they?

5. How long will the project take?
You need a realistic projection so you can plan your life around the remodel. It’s also a good way to discover what other jobs the contractor is working on that might delay your project.

6. How will you keep in touch and up-to-date?
Communication is key. You’ll want to know how the contractor can be reached at any time by phone, text message, or email. Is there an office or team members you can communicate with, as well?

7. Who is supervising the project?
Will the contractor you’re talking to be on site every day to manage the project? Who will? What is the process?

A residential contractor you can trust with your remodeling project should have no trouble answering any of those questions or providing you with a list of references and successful projects.

Andy Tanges is owner of Strategic Remodel, Wichita’s premier residential remodeling contractor, since 2009. He’s been making homeowners happy since he was a kid working in the family business. He’s learned a thing or two over the years. Have a question for Andy or a vision for a remodel? Contact him here.

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