Hiring a contractor can feel like a bottomless swamp of people who are willing to do the bare minimum in order to take your money and get onto the next job. It shouldn’t have to feel like that, so we put together a list of items to keep an eye out for when you have your next home project you need to hire out.
Bare Minimum Questions to Ask
These items are what we consider to be the ‘bare minimums’ to keep an eye out for:
Is the contractor licensed with the state of Tennessee?
The license required depends on the type of work that will be performed. BEC Innovations is licensed as a general contractor, for both residential and commercial. We also have countless trade partners that specialize in specific trades, scopes, and skills that we can call on when we feel like they are better suited for the project. The benefit of hiring through BEC Innovations is our expectation of quality, our large network of trade partners and the care and attention we provide to every. single. client.
Is the contractor insured with the state required minimums?
Ask for proof. If something happens, you want to know that the company operates in the light and carries the required minimum insurance. If the contractor is concerned about providing a simple Certificate of Insurance, move onto the next. Trust me when I say that you will never have a problem verifying BEC’s insurances.
Is the contractor available when you need them?
This one seems simple, but lots of contractors are booking work 6-18 months out. It’s not that booking work that far out is an issue, but if you need a solution *now* then it’s time to move onto the next option. BEC’s goal is to make the timeline work for everyone – we just need to know what you need and see if we can make that work with other work already booked.
Do you feel comfortable when you’re around their team?
If you don’t feel comfortable around the first person coming to your space, you probably won’t feel comfortable with the field team that follows behind. Cut your losses and move onto the next contractor. We take great pride in our client interactions and the fact that we have countless repeat clients, and that doesn’t happen just because of our pricing or availability.
Next Level Questions to Ask
These items are things that we consider to be the next level of items to look out for if you have the time and availability to wait for the right contractor to come along. Obviously, in an emergency situation, these items become moot:
Does the contractor specialize in the task you’re asking for?
Sometimes a ‘jack of all trades’ is a great solution, and sometimes you would be better off with a specialist, specifically for very high-skilled trades that require an additional license. BEC will work with you to find the best solution to fit your needs and we can call on our network of trade partners to step in if the job is something that is better suited for a specialist.
Does the contractor take the time to understand the scope of work?
Getting a quote for a project that is only a portion of the scope is annoying. And time-consuming. And frustrating. If the contractor is too busy with the day-to-day or wanting to get going to the next appointment, they won’t take the time to understand what is actually needed and where the pain is. I take great pride in our ability to hear and understand what the needs of our clients are.
With BEC, you can expect your quote back in no more than one week from the date of the meeting; most of the time we can turn it around in closer to 2-3 days. You will have a description of what needs to happen and the pricing breakdown by scope. If you have further questions, our contact info is included on the quote and we welcome your call!
Does the contractor have suggestions for your project?
Contractors see a lot of projects, a lot of finishes, and a lot of real estate, and if they’re worth their salt they know what works and what doesn’t. Even if you aren’t considering selling your house now, resale needs to be a part of the conversation. By no means am I suggesting that you let a contractor railroad your ideas, but some thoughtful and well-rounded feedback is always a good thing especially when those contractors probably have a lot of experience in the real estate market. At BEC, we take your design style into consideration while also helping you see the big picture of potential resale down the line.
Intangible “Must Haves”
And finally, these are the items that are the ‘intangibles’ and are hard to explain, but we’ve found that these items translate into fine craftsmanship, patience and humility:
Are the tradesperson’s hands clean?
Yes, sometimes we have to get dirty; we know that firsthand. But we also know that meeting clients is a privilege that we take very seriously. What a tradesperson’s hands look like at our first meeting tells me a lot about the standards that this person holds.
Is the contractor managing your expectations appropriately?
If every answer to your questions is ‘yes’ or ‘no problem,’ I hope your ears are perking up. Sometimes things go sideways on projects, and they need a plan in place to manage those expectations. Expecting that everything will go right is not realistic, and makes for a stressed out tradesperson and project manager when things inevitably go awry. BEC Innovations takes pride in our communication style, frequency and standards, all of which help you as the client feel more comfortable in inviting people into your home.
Does the contractor look you in the eye when you meet?
I was raised by an Army vet and this is one of those things that just has carried over to my adulthood. You learn a lot about a person by the way that they greet you.