10 Questions to Ask Before You Hire a Contractor


Tales of renovation woe are about as common as double-talking politicians. In fact, consumers almost expect things to go wrong at some point. But more than the actual unexpected surprises, it’s the unreliable and inept contractors that give people the most headaches. So it was a nice surprise when I came across a copy of Holmes Magazine on a recent transatlantic flight (Thank you 34H). If you’re unfamiliar with this magazine, it’s named after Mike Holmes, the Canadian contractor who can be found on HGTV railing against so many incompetent contractors all the while fixing their ham-fisted work. The recent issue of his eponymous magazine offers some great advice on what to ask when you’re about to hire one:

1. How long have you been in business?

2. May I see a copy of your business license? (Contact the issuing authority to confirm that it’s valid.)

3. How long has your corporation been around for? (Shady contractors change their corporate names regularly to avoid liability.)

4. Can you provide a copy of the certificate of insurance before any work begins? (Again, confirm that it’s valid.)

5. Do you have a list of suppliers and tradespeople that you use?

6. May I see the business licenses and liability insurance from your tradespeople? (Liability insurance is essential, so call the insurance company to verify that the insurance is still valid.)

7. Have you done similar jobs?

8. Can you provide references? (Contact each one and ask if you can visit to see the work firsthand.)

9. What warranty do you offer, and what does it cover?

10. Are you going to acquire the correct permits for the job or will I?

Of course, asking these questions doesn’t guarantee that you won’t get screwed, but we think they give you a fighting chance against all the crooked contractors in the industry. www.holmesmagazine.com.

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