Hanover: Questions to Ask a Contractor Before You Consider Doing Business

Craig and Allison GuidoEarlier this week a friend reached out to me to ask my opinion on quote she got from a contractor for her kitchen renovation. She lives here in Massachusetts but not in Almar’s territory. She was concerned that the price seemed awfully high. But after looking at the scope of work involved I told her it was right in line with the budget range we would have given her. And encouraged her to check out Remodeling Magazines Cost vs. Value report for budget ranges for our area.

But I wanted to share with her some other tips she could consider when making her final decision. There are specific questions I think homeowners should ask a contractor before making a final selection on who to partner with.

Are you licensed? How many other people on your team are licensed?
Make sure your contractor is properly licensed. In the state of Massachusetts, all contractors are required to be licensed with the Board of Building Regulations and Standards. To qualify for a license, you must pass a written aptitude exam that ensures you understand the fundamentals of construction. If the contractor is not licensed it’s best to take a pass right now. If he/she is licensed, ask them to provide you with a copy of their license to ensure it’s up to date.

You should ask for copies of current: Construction Supervisors License, and Home Improvement Contractor License, and if the house is built before 1978 Lead Safe Renovator Certification.                                                         

Do you carry general liability insurance?Schrock Kitchen Whitman
Make sure your contractor carries general liability insurance. This type of insurance protects your property in case of damage caused by the contractor and/or their employees. The insurance company will pay for the cost of replacing and/or repairing any damage that might occur. Make sure you have their Insurance Agent mail or fax to you a copy of their General Liability Insurance Certificate with you named as the “Certificate Holder”.

Do you carry worker’s compensation insurance?
Make sure your contractor carries worker’s compensation. Worker’s Compensation is a State Requirement for Legally operating companies. Worker’s compensation insurance protects you from liability if a worker is injured while on your property. Be aware that if the contractor doesn’t carry worker’s compensation coverage, you may be liable for any injuries suffered by any of the contractor’s employees on your property.

Will you pull all the required building permits?
Make sure your contractor pulls all required permits. This is very important. When a contractor pulls the required building permits, you know things will be done properly and “to code”. Also, many homeowner’s insurance policies require that permits on any major remodeling be pulled to keep your home properly covered. Not all contractors are willing to pull the permit. Many prefer not to pull permits because of the time involved and the “hassle” with the inspectors.

Some contractors may ask you to get the permits. A reputable contractor will permit every job where a permit is required. If they ask you to pull the permit, that’s a big red flag that something is wrong

Do you guarantee your work?
Your contractor should guarantee/warranty their work. Every job should be backed with a workmanship warranty. Many contractors will not guarantee their work. We’ve always felt at Almar Building that if you can’t guarantee it, don’t build it.

Some contractors may provide you with a one-year workmanship warranty. Most faulty workmanship will be easily detected within one year time. If your remodeler won’t guarantee it, don’t buy it. If a company that offers a guarantee over one year that’s a good sign. That is why Almar offers a 3 or 5-year Warranty.

Who will oversee the job? Who is my contact person?
Ask who will be on the job every day? A foreman or superintendent? This is especially significant on a large project where several workers and/or sub-contractors will be necessary to complete the project. If you will be gone during the day and will leave your home unlocked for the work to be completed, you do not want to be worried about what is going on when you are not there.

Will you provide me with written references?
A good contractor should gladly provide you with references. You should look for a well-established contractor who can give you several customer references

How do you handle the “dirty work?”
Dust and dirt. It can get everywhere! Especially if any sanding is being done. Make sure the contractor will cover your floors and/or furniture with tarps. If possible, have him seal off the construction site with a plastic drop cloth. Make sure it’s understood you want the debris cleaned up at the end of each day. Will he dust? Do laundry? Well, let’s not get carried away, but the place shouldn’t be left in a mess.

Are you a member of NARI? Or BRAGB? Or NAHB?
Choose A NARI and/or NAHB contractor. NARI stands for the National Association of the Remodeling Industry. NAHB stands for The National Association of Home Builders.  It’s always a good idea to consider hiring a NARI/NAHB contractor.

Here’s why: In most cases NARI & NAHB attracts only conscientious contractors interested in bettering the industry and weeding out unprofessional builders and remodelers. Secondly, to become a member, NARI & NAHB investigates a contractor’s background and references. Third, all NARI & NAHB members must sign a written code of ethics and pledge professionalism. Most members take this pledge very seriously. NARI & NAHB also run continuing education courses. Ask your contract if he or she has any continuing education credits or designations such as: CGR (Certified Graduate Remodeler), CAPS (Certified Aging in Place Specialist), or VSI (Certified Vinyl Siding Installer). 

Master Bath Scituate

There are a lot of moving parts to renovating a home, please make sure you are working with a professional who is equipped to handle not just the onsite carpentry but also the management aspect of servicing your needs.

If you have questions about larger Home Improvement projects please let my team know. Our team has been working with families like yours for over 58 years. And it is important to us that everyone works together to create the best possible experience. If you have questions about your home improvement project please let us know. https://www.almarbuilding.com (781-826-2577) and watch our videos at http://www.youtube.com/almarbuilding.com

Other great planning articles:
How much to consider when planning a budget
How to choose a deck contractor
Finding a contractor


Almar Building & Remodeling Co (Hanover Ma). As a third-generation family owned and operated company for over 58 years Almar Building has all the benefits of a small company with the options of a larger company. From Additions, Kitchens, Bathroom, Basement Renovations, Siding, Windows, to Doors Almar services the entire South Shore of Massachusetts including: Hanover, Hingham, Pembroke, Norwell, Scituate, Cohasset, Duxbury, Hanson, Abington, Rockland, Holbrook, Braintree, Weymouth, Milton, Westwood, and many more towns.

Craig Guido

With 20 years of remodeling experience both in the field and working in collaboration with homeowners to develop remodeling projects designed to fit your lifestyle.