So, you’re ready for a renovation project.
There are plenty of available contractors in Thousand Oaks, CA.
You will easily build a list of candidates once you ask your friends, family, and neighbors for recommendations.
You can also do a little crowd-sourcing on social media, or simply conduct a google search and examine listings in your area.
The hard part is scrutinizing your candidates to hire the best one.
To help you do that, we’ve put together a quick guide on how you can interview contractors.
How to interview contractors in Thousand Oaks, CA
1. Check their credentials
Contractors must be licensed by state law, but some states require more than one license.
If you are hiring someone to do electrical work, for example, make sure they have both an electrical and general contracting license.
You may want to check with the Better Business Bureau before hiring any contractor to see if there are any complaints filed against them.
And always make sure that your contractor carries liability insurance coverage in case something goes wrong during the job and someone gets hurt.
2. Ask how long they’ve been in business
If possible, find out how long he or she has been working on projects like yours.
A longer track record means that the contractor has more experience with local building codes, regulations, and trends in home design.
It also shows that the contractor has survived difficult economic times.
Ask how long the company has been in business, then if you want, verify this information through the Better Business Bureau.
3. Ask for references
Get at least three references from locals who have recently hired them for similar jobs.
Check out those references by talking to them directly to ask about the job, their experience with the contractor, and whether they were satisfied with the workmanship and the final result.
This requires some work on your part, but it’s well worth it.
4. Ask for a portfolio of previous jobs
Check out their website and portfolio of previous jobs.
If they have one, look at it carefully.
This will give you an idea of what they like doing and what kind of customer service they provide.
5. Ask if they have handled similar projects
It’s not necessary that they’ve done this exact project before, but they should be familiar with the general process.
They should also be aware of any potential problems that might arise during construction and know how best to resolve them without adding additional costs to your bill.
The home improvement profession is a diverse industry and different contractors tend to have different areas of expertise.
That being said, many reliable general contractors are versatile, especially if they’ve been doing business for a long time.
Still, it’s more advisable to go for one who has the most relevant experience in your project.
6. Show them your plan and ask what they think
When interviewing contractors, share your plans with them and ask what they think about your ideas.
This will help you get an idea if they’re on the same page as you and can give you an idea of their expertise.
A good contractor will respectfully acknowledge your plans and offer some insight.
7. Ask for an estimate on materials
This is important because it gives you an idea of how much money you’ll need to budget for your project before it begins — and also helps ensure that they know what they’re doing since they’ll need to get bids from vendors anyway.
Make sure they have a good idea of what materials cost at local stores, as well as where to find them.
8. Ask about necessary permits and mandatory inspections
Every state has its own requirements when it comes to home improvement projects such as yours.
Find out whether the contractor has experience working in your area and whether he or she can get all the necessary permits and inspections done in a timely manner.
9. Ask about the project’s timeframe
Contractors should be able to give you a general timeline of when they think the work will be completed.
If they don’t know or can’t give an estimate, they might not have enough experience with similar projects or may not be taking care of their customers’ needs as well as they could be.
The estimate needs not to be too precise, which is why we call it an estimate, but at the very least, the contractor should give you one with confidence.
10. Ask about the payment schedule
How will they invoice you? Can they accept credit cards?
Will they send an invoice every week or every two weeks?
What happens if something goes wrong and your project takes longer than expected?
The best way to find out is by asking these questions upfront so there aren’t any surprises later on down the road.
You and the contractor should be on the same page about finances before any type of work begins.
11. Ask if there will be a dedicated team on the project
A good contractor will have employees and/or subcontractors who work with them on a regular basis, so they can get the job done in a reasonable timeframe.
If there is a dedicated crew for your project, make sure they’re licensed and experienced as well.
12. Ask who your main point of contact throughout the project will be
This person will be responsible for coordinating meetings, making sure all materials arrive on time, and that any problems are resolved quickly and easily.
See to it that you’re comfortable with this person before hiring them.
Also, make sure you can reach them easily when necessary.
13. Ask about their property protection procedures
Will they cover their workspace with tarps or drop cloths?
Will they clean up thoroughly after each day’s work?
Will all the important furniture and appliances be protected?
Your contractor should be ready to make reasonable efforts to safeguard your property.
14. Ask about how additional costs will be handled
If your contractor gives you an estimate and you find out later that something needs to be added or changed during the job, ask how that additional cost will be handled.
For example, if your contractor includes a certain amount of waste removal in his estimate but discovers more waste than expected during demolition, will he charge extra for this? And if so, how much?
Make sure that both parties agree on any changes before starting work so there are no surprises down the line.
15. Inquire about their work and material warranties
Find out what kind of warranty they offer on their workmanship as well as the materials they use.
Remodeling contractors use plenty of materials on the job — from paint to tile and carpeting.
All these materials should have a warranty, so make sure this is stipulated in the contract.
16. Carefully observe their manner and appearance
This pointer is rather subjective, but it’s vital.
If they seem too eager or nervous, it could be a sign of inexperience.
An experienced contractor will have no problem answering questions and explaining how they will approach the job.
Trust your gut and make sure you get along with the contractor because you’re going to interact with them extensively.
How to interview contractors in Thousand Oaks- Conclusion
This article should give you the basic framework to follow when interviewing prospective contractors.
It may not work for every scenario, but it will help guide you through some of the basic questions that you need to ask and get a sense of whether or not you can see yourself working well with this particular contractor.