Home Renovation? 5 Questions to Ask Every General Contractor

Home Renovation? 5 Questions to Ask Every General Contractor

As an Interior Designer, I love a home renovation. But I understand that not everyone does and it could be a daunting endeavor. So, I’ve come up with my 5 must ask questions to anyone thinking of working with a GC to improve your home.

Asking these questions are a must of anyone who will be in and out of your home for weeks, months or even years at a time. I know the fun part is to start picking out color swatches and planning your Pinterest-perfect renovation, but it’s also important to have a frank conversation when interviewing potential contractors.

Here are my top five questions you need to ask to ensure that your home renovation goes off without a hitch. Just remember: communication is key to any healthy and successful relationship.

Bathroom Powder Room Vignette Blue And White
The Joy of Color by Kate Thacker

No. 1 What is your experience with home renovations?

This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s still important to ask. You want to understand how much experience your soon-to-be bestie actually has. Are they new to the game, a seasoned veteran or somewhere in between? And, what is your comfort level with this answer?

How did you get into this business? I love a good origin story! Understanding the motivation and intention of what drives someone’s daily life is a relatable life experience to anyone. It helps you get to know them just a little bit better.

How long have you been in the home construction business? This is a great question that goes along with experience. The answer to this question is all about client preference and comfort level. A motivated, excited, passionate newbie may be a great opportunity to work with. Or, you may only prefer to work with someone with years upon years of residential renovation experience under their belt. Either way, ask the question to figure out where you’re most comfortable.

Stair Design Dog Bench Seating
Photography of the interior design and renovation projects completed by Kate Thacker Home and River Oak Build at 227 N. Rosemont in Dallas on December 21, 2022. © 2023 Sonya N. Hebert Photography. All Rights Reserved.

No. 2 Are you licensed and insured for home renovations?

This is a critical question to ask. You want to make sure that your contractor has the proper licenses to do the work and that they have liability insurance in case anything goes wrong. You don’t want to be held responsible for any accidents that happen on your property.

No. 3 What is your payment schedule?

Money talks, so be sure you and the GC are on the same page when it comes to payments. It’s common that General Contractors charge a percentage of the overall project costs to get things started. Sometimes GC’s request a small reservation fee to hold your spot on their schedule.

When can we expect to be charged during the project? You don’t want any surprises when it comes to payments. Ask your contractor when you can expect to be charged during your home renovation project, so you can all be on the same page and no surprises pop up.

What is your final payment schedule going to look like? Knowing when your final payment is due can help you plan and anticipate the project’s completion. Do they expect a payment before or after the punch list? Don’t forget to think about YOUR comfort level of what to pay when.

TIP: Please don’t submit final payment to your contractor until all work is completed to your satisfaction on your home!

No. 4 As a contractor, how do you handle change orders?

Let’s wrap our heads around what a change order is first. A change order is anything added to the project outside it’s original scope. Change orders are a must to know about during the project. They will be additional costs and could effect the project’s overall timeline. Please ask your contractor how they handle them!

Should I expect my change order to be in writing? The short answer is yes. Requesting any scope changes that effect the budget or project timeline should be in writing. Be sure your GC says Yes!

When do I pay these additional fees? Knowing when you’re expected to pay for change orders can help you plan and budget accordingly. This could be handled on a case by case basis during a project. But having this conversation before something comes up sets up expectations.

TIP: Once the project has begun, be sure to have the full scope in writing. This should be outlined in the contract. Anything not included in this scope will be considered a change order.

Kate Thacker Home Dallas Tx Kitchen Design
Ready to start your renovation? Reach out to Kate HERE to get started! Cul-de-Sac Cutie by Kate Thacker Home in Dallas, TX

No. 5 What is your timeline?

When can you start? You want to know when the general contractor will be able to start your home renovation project. Depending on their workload, availability of materials, or even time of year it could be a few weeks or a months. This may also be a factor in your decision making of which contractor to go with.

How long will my home renovation take? There are many factors that could effect the answer to this question – labor, materials, pandemics! However, understanding what the ideal timeline is without any interruptions is a conversation must!

What can cause delays? Delays are a fact of life in renovation projects. As long as you stay on top of your project and communicate during your renovation you will understand how delays could effect the completion date.

Based on my experience, delays could include: unknown termite or water damage, flooding, materials being back ordered or unavailable, incorrect or damaged material sent by vendor, decision changes by the client, additional work added by the client, weather, labor availability, market demand for labor, etc.

Kate Thacker Home kitchen itnerior designer dallas tx
Black and White Forever by River Oak Build and Kate Thacker

Are there more questions you could ask? Of course! But let’s just start by asking these five questions, to any General Contractor you’re meeting with. Remember, the key to any successful renovation relationship with your contractor is communication. Make sure you and your GC are on the same page every step of the way, and you’ll be enjoying your beautiful new space in no time.

For more information on how I can help along with the process of hiring a GC, schedule a Discovery Call with Kate Thacker Home.

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