10 Essential Questions to Ask a Contractor Before Hiring: Get it Right from the Start


Finding a good contractor can indeed be overwhelming, considering the importance of making the right choice. According to a survey conducted with 548 homeowners, only 3 out of every 10 homeowners felt confident in their ability to adequately vet a contractor. The following questions are crucial for homeowners to ask before selecting a contractor for their project:

No Funny Business

Question #1: How long have you been in business?

  • An established contractor with at least three years of experience in the area is preferable, as they likely have reliable relationships with local suppliers and subcontractors and a reputation to uphold.

Question #2: Have you ever done business under a different name?

  • Contractors who have changed their business name might be trying to hide from a bad reputation. It is advisable to research the reputation and reviews of their previous business before considering hiring them.

License and Insurance Please

licensed and insured

Question #3: Are you licensed and insured for this type of work?

  • Requesting a contractor’s license number allows homeowners to verify their qualifications and check the history of claims or judgments filed against them.

Question #4: Does your insurance adequately cover my property and your crew if something goes wrong?

  • Homeowners must ensure that the contractor’s insurance provides sufficient coverage for their property and the work crew in case of any accidents or injuries. Otherwise, the homeowner might be held liable.

Question #5: Can you provide me with a release of liability form for this job?

  • If a contractor refuses to provide a release of liability form, it is advisable to remove them from consideration.

Get it in Writing

Contractor Agreement

Question #6: Can I get a written contract with an itemized estimate and a phase-by-phase timeline for my project?

  • Requesting an itemized estimate allows for accurate price comparisons between contractors. Having a timeline with project phases helps homeowners understand what to expect and when.

Question #7: Is my estimate a fixed cost, or are there any variables?

  • Knowing if there are any variables that could affect the project’s cost helps prevent unexpected expenses. All changes to the original scope of work should be documented and agreed upon in writing beforehand.

Question #8: Is there a cost for materials due up front?

  • Reputable contractors typically ask for payment to purchase materials for larger projects once they are ready to start. It is essential to have a written contract in place before making any payments. Upfront payments of 15-25% of the total project cost are common, while smaller projects may not require upfront payment. Any request for 75% or more upfront should raise concerns.

Permission Slips

Question #9: Will you get all required permits and schedule required inspections?

  • Some projects require permits and inspections, and failing to obtain them can lead to delays and fines. Contractors should be aware of the necessary permits and inspections and include their cost in the itemized estimate.

Let’s Make Sure We Wrap this up Right!

Question #10: Do you offer a warranty/guarantee on your work and materials?

  • A written warranty with specific details is crucial, as vague or verbal contracts may prove useless when warranty claims arise. The contractor’s willingness and ability to honor the warranty are also important factors to consider.


In conclusion, when it comes to hiring a contractor for your home improvement project, asking the right questions is paramount to ensure a successful and hassle-free experience. By following the outlined questions, you can make informed decisions and select a contractor who meets your requirements.

Remember, finding a reputable contractor is crucial, as evidenced by the fact that only a fraction of homeowners feel confident in their ability to properly vet a contractor. The questions provided help you navigate the selection process and identify potential red flags.

From inquiring about a contractor’s experience, verifying licenses and insurance, getting written contracts, to understanding payment terms and warranties, each question serves a purpose in safeguarding your interests.

Furthermore, if you prefer to have someone else handle the vetting process, a reliable option is available. The third-party company mentioned provides a list of thoroughly researched and vetted contractors, backed by a $10,000 guarantee. This additional level of assurance can give you peace of mind throughout your project.

Make sure to visit their website, www.thegoodcontractorslist.com, for more information and to find trustworthy contractors for your specific needs.

By arming yourself with knowledge and asking these essential questions, you can confidently hire a contractor, knowing that you’ve taken the necessary steps to get your project off to a strong start.

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