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At the helm of any renovation project is your contractor. Your contractor is your project leader, the person responsible for keeping their workers on track, adhering to agreed-upon designs, and working with suppliers to keep your project on schedule and within your budget.

Choosing the right contractor is no small feat. Whether you’re gutting your house completely or simply upgrading your home with new features like custom windows and doors, you need a contractor with enough experience, knowledge, and resources to lead the way.

Knowing what to ask while interviewing potential contractors is the first step in your selection process.

Let’s explore seven of the most important questions to ask potential contractors. With this insight, you can feel confident you’ve chosen a professional that understands your vision and can execute it on time and on budget.

  1. Are you licensed?

First things first — is your potential contractor licensed in his industry? Licensing ensures clients that they are qualified to carry out any construction project and are qualified to make executive decisions, and lead a team of tradesmen.

  1. How long have you worked in your industry?

Experience is key when interviewing anyone who is going to be working on a project for your home, no matter how small or large. If your contractor is a seasoned professional, there’s a higher likelihood that they can execute the details of your renovation project with greater proficiency and accuracy than someone new to the industry.

  1. What type of renovations do you specialize in?

If you’re looking to upgrade your bathroom, you don’t want a contractor who’s primarily done outdoor renovations. You want to ensure the professional you choose has completed projects similar to yours with a high success rate. By discussing the scope of your project and reviewing their portfolio, you can make an informed decision about whether or not they have the expertise you need for your specific project.

  1. What is your relationship with your suppliers?

Suppliers play a key role in any renovation project. After all, without product suppliers, there would be nothing to build your new space with. How your contractor works with their suppliers is an important part of the puzzle that often goes overlooked.

Do they have regular suppliers for their primary materials? Have they worked with these suppliers for a long time? These questions will help you determine if they’ve been able to maintain healthy relationships with those outside their construction team and will likely guarantee your order is completed in an accurate and timely manner.

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  1. Do you have a portfolio of completed projects?

Before you put your trust in a contractor and sign any agreements or provide any initial payments, ask to see a portfolio — whether it’s a physical book or online portfolio — of past projects. Being able to visually inspect the quality of their work should provide the additional context you need to make your decision.

  1. What is your estimated timeline for completing my renovation?

If your project has multiple stages, you’ll want to establish a clear timeline with your contractor. Outlining each project will help everyone stay on track and keep your workers accountable for their word. If one of the stages falls behind schedule, you can look at your timeline as a whole and determine where the made-up time will come from.