Questions to Ask a Contractor Before You Hire

It’s renovation time, and, as part of your preparations, think about the last time you hired someone to rebuild or remodel your home. There was probably an initial phone conversation, followed by a site visit where you were probably given a quote for the project and a discussion of a timeline. Then, they showed up to start the job.

You may have asked them for testimonials or photos of previous work. But did you ask if they had their own insurance?

According to experts, it’s essential that hired contractors and subcontractors are adequately insured. (Some experts suggest they should carry $1 million liability at minimum.) If they’re not insured, the work they do for you comes at a high price. If they are injured, or if there is damage to your property because of their actions, you could be the one to take the financial hit. Your homeowners insurance may have to pay if the contractor doesn’t have a liability policy.

To avoid liability, it’s always wise to vet contractors at the beginning. Ask friends and neighbors for recommendations, and check out the candidates through your local Better Business Bureau. If you’re unsure about what credentials your contractor should have, contact the national contractors association.

Ask what insurance the contractor has before you hire. Then ask to see the insurance certificate as proof that the contractor’s policy is in place. There have been incidences of forged certificates, so be wary. Also, check the date to ensure it will remain valid throughout the entire period he or she will be working on your project.

Finally, be sure you can work with the contractor. Whatever the project, you must have a high level of confidence in your contractor; inevitably, things will go wrong on the job, and you need to be able to work closely with him or her to help solve problems.

Home Sweet Home Meets 21st Century Design Trends

According to a recent Houzz survey, in which 1,700 people shared their home decorating dreams, desires, and intentions, home decorating decisions are now driven by age and gender. Here are a couple of salient survey results:

  • Seventeen percent of respondents under 35 expressed a preference for wallpaper, compared to only 3 percent of people over 65.
  • A quarter of the men surveyed said that trends influence their decorating decisions; and, maybe surprisingly, only 14 percent of women admit to being “trendistas.”

But there’s a disconnect here: Houzz editorial staff writer Mitchell Parker suggests that men aren’t trend followers because they want to be fashionable; more likely, they’re thinking about their home’s future resale value.

Of survey respondents who plan on hiring an interior designer or home decorator, roughly 12 percent said they would use online e design services rather than consult a professional directly.

The Houzz survey also revealed a clear trend toward loungier bedrooms, with 60 percent of respondents indicating that they plan to add seating in their “master suite,” 52 percent are looking to add a TV, and 8 percent are considering adding luxuries such as a fireplace or even a mini fridge.

In fact, TVs have become necessities just about everywhere; many people consider them essential in guest rooms, kids’ bedrooms, and even in formal dining rooms too. The exception is younger homeowners, who are ditching the traditional TV to watch programs on their devices.