1. Ask to see proof of a license, certification, or associations they belong to? Then check state boards of licensing to confirm they are current.
2. Is the contractor bonded? In case damage is done to the property or someone gets hurt while repairs are being done, you need to know how this situation will be handled.
3. Ask for recommendations? Talk to the people who had the work done and ask questions such as: Was the work done on time? Was the work completed as required? Did the estimate run over the original cost?
4. What are their specialties — kitchens, bathrooms, or additions? Are there jobs they don’t like to tackle? If they don't have prior experience in doing a job, you may not want your home improvement project to be their test case.
5. Will they secure permits? Very important as buyers will want to see this if you ever sell to confirm that work was done according to current codes.
6. How much must be paid up front for work? Be very leary of someone who wants it all upfront, as you will have no guarantees the work will be done to your satisfaction.
7. Do they have a regular team of subs, or assemble different members? You need to know who is exactly doing the work. Is it the contractor or someone new to doing the work.
8. How will conflicts be resolved — will a resolution clause be in the contract? Get it in writing before any work is started.
9. If you are using a general contractor who has a team of workers doing the job, find out how often they will show up at the job site to check progress. Someone needs to follow up to confirm work is being done to code.
10. How can they be reached to answer questions — e-mail, phone, text?
11. Will the contractor provide a lien release when work is done? You don't want to find out later when you are trying to sell, that a lien was not removed after payment was complete and you have to reach the contractor. That is why #10 is important.This are good starter points, but don't overlook your instincts if you don't feel like the person is being truthful in their answers. Move on to someone you can trust to handle this valuable investment -- your home.