DIY or Not: How to Interview a Contractor

Interview a Contractor

Many of us have the ability to make adjustments, repairs and enhancements to our homes. Many simple tasks are easy to update like replacing a light switch cover. However, other types of tasks may require more skills that you may or may not have. If you feel that electrical work is not in your skill set, it is a good idea to hire a contractor. Although you have the skills, you do not have the time to perform the task. This is another reason you may need to hire a contractor to help you.

When hiring a contractor there are specific questions we suggest you ask when you interview a contractor.

Are They Licensed

This is important. If the contractor you are considering hiring is not licensed, then you need to consider the risks. If you work with an unlicensed contractor and there is an issue with your project, you more than likely will not have recourse on how to solve the issue.

Our recommendation is to work with solid licensed contractors.

Are They Insured

This is extremely important. When you hire a contractor and an accident happens on your property, you will be relieved that the contractor is insured. If the contractor is not insured, then you will potentially be responsible for any accident that could occur.

Think about a roofer or some other contractor that needs to get on high ladders. If any of these individuals fall off a ladder, it is important to understand who is covered during this unfortunate accident. But remember, call 911 to help first.

Client Referrals

Ask the potential contractor for client referrals. When you speak to these referrals, you can also ask about their experience. You will also understand how the contractor works with their clients. And you will also see the type of work the contractor performs.

Keep in mind when speaking to other clients that they may operate a bit differently than you. This is important because if the client referrals are very hands off during the construction process and you are very hands on, the relationship will be different.

Work History

Client referrals are great, however, work history shows us the work that the contractor has done. You can see some of the types of projects they can have performed. If they are a tile contractor, have they installed floor and shower tile? Have they performed outdoor or pool tile? Each of these types of tile projects are important but all require a slightly different set of products. Therefore, reach out to the contractors that have done projects in the specific area that you need.


What is the contractors’ availability? If you have a specific time that you need to get the work completed, you will need to take the availability into consideration. For instance, if you have a leak in your pipes, you need someone quickly to solve the problem. If you have a brand new half bathroom project, you can wait a to get this project completed.

Payment structures

Talk to your contractor about contracts and payment structures. This can also be an opportunity to negotiate during this process. Some contractors will want you to pay a portion of the job up front in order to secure materials. And the final payment will be at the end of the job when the project is finished. Other contractors will request a payment structure that align with milestones. If one step is finished, a payment is due, next step, completed another payment is due, and so on and so on.

A quick tip to keep in mind is do not pay the full amount of the project upfront. Make sure the project is completed before making any final payment.

Changes and How to Handle Them

Oftentimes during projects, there is a need to make change. This change of the initial project may be occurred due to damage that was not initially identified, a product is no longer available, delivery of products are delayed, or contractors are unavailable. Any of these changes may cause more money to finish the project.

Asking your contractor about his or her change order process. Asking about these details will help set expectations up front. Understanding the change order process will keep all parties on the same page and identify a predefined process.

With these questions in your toolbox, you will find hiring a contractor a lot easier.