If this is your first foray into the world of home renovation, welcome! We’ve been waiting for you. You’ll quickly learn how daunting, yet rewarding, a task this truly is. You’ll have to manage everything from a budget, to final decisions on materials and design. One tool that’s absolutely essential to the success of your renovation is your contractor. That’s not to say your contractor is a tool! But an integral and important part of any home renovation. Finding the right one is a special task all on its own.

Aside from visiting former job sites, checking their reviews, and vetting recommendations, you’ll have to meet with the folks whose work you like and want to employ. You’ll discuss your vision mostly, but that’s not the only piece to this puzzle. Go into your interviews with these questions to help you find the right person for the job.

Insurance
Insurance requirements vary from state to state, even between counties. You want to know, prior to going into your meeting, what those requirements are, especially in terms of insurance. Most contractors have a liability and/or workers comp insurance. They may not, though, if it isn’t required for their business. While there’s no way to predict whether or not you’ll need insurance, the types and likelihood of injury is an added expense you won’t want to deal with halfway through a renovation.

License and Bonding
Again, this is another requirement that varies from state to state. In California, general contractors must be licensed, and some state or local laws require bonding to receive that license. Bonding is important because it protects you if a job is left unfinished, proper permits aren’t obtained, or they fail to meet other financial obligations. You want to work with someone who is licensed and bonded. More security for you.

Sub-Contractors or Employees
Another question for peace of mind. You’ll be opening your home to your contractor and their team. Some contractors keep employees on payroll, others have a list of workers they call for reinforcement based on the job and their specialty, otherwise known as sub-contractors. If your contractor hires out, you may want to ask about their experience working together, or get a sense of how they vet their workers.

Hours of Operation
It isn’t just knowing when they plan to show up and go home, but chain of command and house rules are helpful in getting to know how they work. What time they get started and when they leave is equally as important as how they leave the site each day. Where will materials and supplies be stored? Who’s responsible for the conduct of workers and their conditions? What clean up is involved on a daily basis? In a chaotic situation, having a sense of these details will help the entire process seem more manageable.

There will be opportunity while discussing your vision and your budget to get a feel for the contractors you interview. How they communicate with you when laying out their plans, how well they field your questions, and general chit-chat will bring out their knowledge, credibility, and character. With these questions you can get the ball rolling in a direction that will help you feel confident in your final decision hiring the best person for the job.