Questions to Ask Before You Hire A Contractor

Lee Blackburn

If you are a Nashville property owner, you may need to hire a contractor for renovations and major repairs around your rental. However, the contractor you hire will determine how well your house renovation projects get completed. It can be challenging to find a trustworthy contractor with significant experience and expertise especially if you are new in the rental business. 

So, you need to ensure that you conduct a comprehensive interviewing process before finalizing a service provider.

Based on our experience, here are a few questions that every Nashville landlord must ask a contractor before hiring them.

1. Do You Have a License?

Most people assume that the service provider they are working with is licensed. However, that may not be the case. Therefore, it is essential to ask them and verify if they have the Tennessee Contractor’s License or at least the appropriate business licensure in the State of Tennessee.

contractors offerYou must only hire licensed contractors for their skills, experience, education, and essential insurance coverages. If the contractors say they have a license, ask them to prove they have met the specific criteria. Tennessee grants a license to applicants who have:

  • Passed the Tennessee Business and Law exams or a trade exam, depending on the type of license  
  • Provided proof of 4 years of experience on-field within the past ten years
  • Provided financial statements
  • Submitted the proof of insurance
  • Paid all licensing and application fees

2. Are You Insured?

Contractor-work involves high risks like accidents, the uncertainty of work going as planned, unsuitable climate, or lack of supply storage. If you hire an uninsured contractor, you might have to pay more than the anticipated amount to either pay for the workers, extra equipment, and materials or compensate for their injuries if they are not insured. 

Hence, you must hire a contractor who has essential insurance coverages like these –

  • General Liability Insurance
  • Professional Liability Insurance
  • Worker’s Compensation Insurance
  • Pollution Liability Insurance
  • Commercial Auto Insurance

3. Do You Offer an Itemized Bill?

There are several costs involved in conducting renovations,  repairs, and installations. Here are a few things that incur the most expenses –

  • Contractor fees
  • Subcontractor fees
  • Labor charges
  • Raw materials, tools, or instrument costs
  • Travel costs 
  • Pre-inspection fees
  • Taxes

Ideally, every contractor should provide an itemized bill. Otherwise, there is no way for you to know how much money you will need to spend for each item and whether the charges are reasonable. 

4. Are There Any Additional Fees?

Some contractors offer a quote for their services but fail to mention the additional charges like labor fees or extra-hour charges. Such a quote can be misleading and may lead to additional expenses, for which you may not be prepared. Ask your contractor about the additional costs they charge beforehand to be better prepared financially or even decide if you want to look out for another contractor. 

5. How Long Have You Been in Business?

A contractor’s experience speaks a lot for the quality of work they can deliver and their fee structure. If the contractor has been in the business for over ten years, you can expect them to be good at their job and complete the work in time, as they have a vast network and a team set-up. However, you can expect their rates to be higher than the contractors with lesser experience. 

6. How Long Have You Worked in Nashville?

The more the number of years that the contractors have worked in the city, the better. If they know the city well, they know what local permits are required to complete a contractor job. They also know the climatic conditions and can tell you what month is the best to start specific projects like roof installations or exterior remodeling to get the work done faster. Additionally, they will have more contacts and a valuable network of vendors, labor workers, and trade workers across the city to work for the project at a more affordable price. 

 7. How Long Would It Take to Complete This Project?

An efficient contractor should be able to tell you how long it will take to complete an on-site project. They should calculate all the factors like the weather conditions, the availability of labor, the time required for items like new roofing or wall sidings to settle, and any unforeseen events. If not the exact date, they should at least tell you the month by which they can complete the project. If they offer vague answers, you may want to look for a more reliable contractor. 

8. Am I Expected to Be in or Around the Property During the Project?

Ask them if they expect you to be on the property every day while the work is in process. Visiting the house on a regular basis can be feasible if you live in the same city. However, this could be an issue if you are an out-of-state homeowner, as you may have to plan your time and schedule accordingly. 

9. Do You Have Any References?

Despite the contractor’s experience in the field, make it a point to check their references. Ask them politely if you can get a few references from past employers. Talk to their clients about the quality of work these contractors have delivered, their speed, and customer services. It may help you determine if the contractors are fit to do the job or if you should hire a better professional.

10. Do You Have a Dispute Resolution Policy?

Despite an adequately drafted agreement between you and the contractors, any uncalled-for events or accidents could lead to disputes. If these disputes go to court, you might have to bear heavy legal fines and face prolonged vacancies due to the half-done work. Hence, the contractors should have a dispute resolution policy that internally offers automatic, fair, and quick resolutions. 

Bottom Line

Hire Property ManagerFinding a contractor on your own and getting the necessary renovations or repair work done can be a demanding task. Therefore, we recommend homeowners like you hire a Nashville property manager. Property managers are experienced professionals who know the details of property management and maintenance. They also have a wide network across the city to tell if the contractors are reliable. 

You can consult a trusted company like Omni Realtors and Property Management. We have been in Nashville real estate since 2005 and can help you find the best contractors in your neighborhood. 

Get in touch with Omni Realtors and Property Management now to learn more.