Home Builders Association of the Fox Cities (HBAFC) understands that for most people, building, buying and/or remodeling a house is the largest investment you will make. Therefore, HBAFC urges all homeowners to gather as much information as possible about a contractor before signing a contract and allowing any work to begin.

Important things to ask:

Is the contractor a member of a trade association?

Membership in a builders association, for example, is an indication of the contractor’s interest in being aligned with a credible organization and supporting his/her industry. Additionally, those associated with professional organizations are held to a standard of professionalism by their peers, who believe that respectability, skill and continuing education grows and supports the industry.

How long has the contractor been in business?
How much experience does the contractor have with jobs similar to yours?
Will the contractor provide names, addresses and phone numbers of past customers?

Call these for references. Ask the references about the contractor’s timeliness in completing the work, the quality of work, response time when follow-up calls are needed, and the contractor’s manner in dealing with customers. Ask if they would hire the same contractor again.

Will the contractor allow you to see other projects the company has done, both completed and in progress?

If you choose to include the step of inspecting other projects, check for quality of workmanship and materials, or take someone with you if you are not personally knowledgeable in this area.

Does the contractor have a local permanent business location?

This may even be the builder/remodeler’s residential address. The main importance of this question is to ensure that the contractor is not simply appearing to be a local business. Be wary of those who may be doing business in the area for a short period of time and may be unresponsive later when they’ve moved on.

What local suppliers and financial institutions does the contractor use?

Call these companies for references.

Does the contractor hold the proper credentials required by the state of Wisconsin to pull building permits?

In Wisconsin, contractors must hold the Dwelling Contractor and Dwelling Contractor Qualifier Credentials in order to pull building permits. You can check the contractor’s business/name with the WI Department of Safety & Professional Services public look-up here. https://esla.wi.gov/publiclookup

Is the company sufficiently insured?

Will the contractor provide you with a complete and clearly written contract?

A contract benefits both parties. Review it carefully.

Is the contractor submitting an unusually low-priced bid compared to others you’ve received? Be cautious and ask questions. It’s important to review all bids in detail and not just fixate on the bottom number. There could be costly change orders in the future.

Does the contractor offer a warranty?
What responsibility does the contractor assume for the work of the subcontractors?
Does the contractor respond promptly to your inquiries?
Do you feel the contractor is listening to and understanding your needs and wants?
What is the process for customer service after the project is completed?
Are you comfortable communicating and working closely with the contractor?

Remember, for long-term projects, you will be in close contact with the contractor during the entire construction or remodeling project.

The best way to find the right contractor is to do your homework. It’s well worth the effort.
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