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Let’s say you’re really anxious to remodel your kitchen or your bathroom. Now you’re searching for the right remodeler to do the job. Maybe you are even about to hire someone. So what should you zero in on while going through the hiring process?

Of course, every successful remodeler has photos of successful projects and can give you references from past clients. You’ll want to visit the homes of those clients if you can. However, there are also some basic questions to ask your potential remodeler; perhaps they are questions you have never thought about before. Following are the basic questions you should ask plus a final suggestion about a question that remodelers may ask you:

1 | Are you licensed, bonded, & insured?

Is the remodeler or remodeling company licensed, bonded and insured and is the company’s bond and insurance current? Be sure to ask when the expiration dates are for the bond and insurance; if they will expire before your project is finished, there could be problems. It would be good to have certification of all these documents.

2 | Do you have a good standing with the ROC?

Check on the Arizona Registrar of Contractors Web site to find out the status of the remodeler’s license and any past problems your remodeler might have had. Ask the remodeler about any part of the Web site listing that puzzles you.

3 | Are you able to test for asbestos & lead?

If your home was built before 1978, asbestos or lead paint might have been used during the building of your house. So find out if the remodeler is proficient in testing for those materials and safely removing them. The remodeler should be able to pinpoint in advance where problem materials may have been used.

4 | Are you familiar with current design trends?

Ask your builder if he or she is familiar with current design trends or if they have someone on staff that can give you advice on what will work best and how you can avoid future problems with your choices? Just a few years ago, for example, everyone wanted to put “subway” tiles with black grout on the walls of showers; now that’s out of style. A new trend is to use natural stones, pebbles and boulders in showers and bathrooms to add an outdoor ambience. But they can be very hard to walk on and very tough to clean. It’s important to select materials and designs that will stand the test of time.

5 | Who are the subcontractors that will help with my project?

Feel free to ask who the subcontractors will be that will do various parts of your job and who will supply the materials for your project.

6 | Who is the supervisor for my project?

Ask to be introduced to the supervisor who will likely be in charge of the job in your home. It might also be a good idea to visit him while he is at work on a current job for the remodeler so you can see the supervisor in action. After all, this is someone you will be working with for some time, possible a month or two or maybe more.

7 | What will be the guaranteed price and completion date?

Ask about cost control. No matter how big or small the remodeler is, he or she needs to be able to give you a guaranteed date for completion and a guaranteed price. At the same time, you need to realize that if you make any changes after the start of construction, the cost will go up. If you want your job to move along smoothly, you should also have everything ordered in advance of your start time.

8 | Do I need permits for my project? Who will obtain those?

Ask about whether your project will need permits from the city or county where your house is located. Who will verify whether a permit is required, and if so who will “pull” the permit? You’ll find that almost every remodeling job requires a permit. If you neglect getting the necessary permits, it could cost you money and trouble in the long run.

9 | How will sales tax be calculated and dealt with?

Ask the remodeler how they will compute the sales tax for your project. Over the past five years in Arizona, there have been many changes in the law about how sales tax is computed on remodeling contracts and whether the contractors or subcontractors pay the taxes. In some cases, some homeowners have accidentally paid twice the sales tax that they should have paid.

The Question Asked of You

And finally, a 10th question, one that contractors will often ask you when you first meet them. Actually, it’s a question you should never, never answer: What’s your budget for this remodel?

The entire remodeling industry often seems anxious to get you to say what your budget is, of course. However, you want the remodeler to tell you first what your budget needs to be. Tell them what you want to do in your house and ask them what that renovation will cost.

If the number you have in mind paying for your job is completely different than the remodelers’ budget, you should be able to get them to work with you to reach a number that will work for all parties involved.

Once you’ve gone through these conversations with your remodeler, you’ll feel more confident about moving forward and you will probably sidestep many of the complications that could come along. Hopefully, you’ll soon be referring your contractor to neighbors and friends that love the way your home turned out.


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