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Questions Smart People Ask Their Contractor

Oct 15, 2015

Smart questions for contractors

In our experience as a Miami roofer, there’s just one thing that separates homeowners who have a good experience with their contractor from those who have a bad experience– asking the right questions.

Each and every time, asking the right questions will help you tell the ethical, skilled, and honest contractors apart from the frauds. Online reviews and word of mouth are excellent screening methods, too, but you’ll be in for a shock if you don’t follow up those recommendations by asking the questions that matter.

These questions were designed to help you weed out the contractors who will take your money, leave shoddy work behind, and never answer the phone again. You’ll also have a good idea on how to avoid the well-meaning contractors who just don’t have all their ducks in a row.

The Questions

A good contractor is happy to answer all of the following questions. They won’t act like it’s a chore to give you an in-depth answer for each one, either. They know it’s in your best interest, and their best interest, to explain who they are and what they do as clearly as possible.

If you encounter a contractor who dislikes answering questions, you’ve encountered a contractor who also dislikes doing good work. That’s a major red flag.

When you’re selecting a contractor for your next home improvement project, ask these questions:

  • “How long have you been in business?” – This question separates the tried-and-true craftsmen from the people who are still trying to figure everything out. Not to say every new contractor is a bad contractor, but when you’re looking out for your home, it’s best to choose someone with a proven track record.
  • “Do you have references?” – A contractor should have references beyond online reviews and the testimonials on their website. Ask them if they can provide a few references, and ask them to explain the details of the project.  
  • “Can I contact them?” – If they are comfortable listing references, ask them if you can contact those references. Your contractor should be able to facilitate the request, even if they have to act as a middleman. Some homeowners don’t want their contact information given out, after all. If they’re reluctant to let you speak with their references, that’s another red flag.
  • “What jobs have you worked on that are similar to mine?” – This one is very important. Your contractor should be able to explain the jobs, and explain how the installation was similar to your project. Ask for specifics.
  • “Can I see some examples?” – Most contractors are proud of their work, so they at least take some photos. Ideally, your contractor will provide photos of projects similar to what you want to do. If you think their project samples look like what you’re envisioning for your home, it’s a good sign.
  • “Which certifications and licenses do you have?” – You need to find out if your contractor is licensed, insured, and bonded. Also find out if they belong to any associations. Ask them who their insurance provider is. They should be able to list their licenses and certifications. If they hesitate here, you should find a new contractor.

If your contractor becomes hesitant, defensive, or hostile when you ask them any of these questions, they’re a bad choice. Good contractors know to expect these questions. In fact, they like answering these questions– a good contractor wants to work closely with you, and they want to make sure all your needs and expectations are met.

The Follow Up

Once you get your answers, the process still isn’t quite finished. Write down their answers, and then prepare to follow up on everything they’ve said.

To check up on licenses, use this site as a reference. Follow up with their insurance provider, and make sure they’re still insured. You can use this site to check on the lifespan of their business.

Make sure to follow up with the references they provide, and carefully study their project photos. If possible, drive by past homes they’ve worked on and see them for yourself, in person.

This might seem like a laundry list of chores, but when you’re spending real money on a contractor, it’s a big project. They’ll also be working in and around your home. You need to make sure they’re trustworthy, reliable, and that they get the job done correctly.

Remember, if your contractor seems annoyed by your questions, it’s best to move on to someone else. As a Miami roofer, we’ve had to clean up after plenty of other contractors who do half-baked work and don’t properly answer homeowner questions.

No matter the size, scope, or price of your project, and no matter which contractor you choose, you need to ask these questions. Get your answers and do the follow up research, and we promise you’ll save time, money, stress, and heartache in the long run.


Integrity, Trust, Pride, and Peace of Mind,

~Frank Istueta

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