The top five questions to ask your renovator

A home renovation can add value and comfort to your home. Once you’ve committed to upgrading your home, the first step is to find a professional remodeler. Lists online can seem endless. How do you know which expert will be able to provide exceptional service and quality craftsmanship? Some projects take a lot of time and money, so it’s important to choose a contractor you can trust. To help you navigate your options, consider asking the following pointed questions to find the renovator that meets the needs of your project.

How long have you been in the industry?

It usually takes three to five years to build a financially sound business. You want to make sure they will be there after construction is complete to service warranties. Check to see if the renovator has a permanent place of business. If they only have a PO Box, beware. Professionals have a physical office, a postal address, a telephone and an e-mail. They should answer your questions quickly.

What type of insurance do you have?

Make sure the builder/renovator has enough workers’ compensation and general liability insurance. All professional contractors must be insured and able to present a certificate proving this insurance. Otherwise, you could be held responsible for any construction-related accidents on your premises.

Do you have any references I can talk to?

Professional contractors need to have up-to-date references they can provide from current and past clients – and you need to be able to reach those references, not just an answering machine. If they don’t provide references, beware. If so, ask clients if they would hire the builder/renovator again. In addition, an experienced renovator can show you his completed and ongoing work.

How will we discuss the progress of the project?

Do you feel able to communicate easily with the renovator? Remember that you will be in close contact with them throughout the construction process and afterwards when you live in your newly renovated home. You both need to agree on how often to connect to discuss updates throughout the project. It’s best to determine which communication channel (email, text, phone, or virtual meeting) fits your needs.

Are you able to provide a written contract?

A qualified renovator will provide a written estimate before starting work and provide a detailed contract. The contract should clearly specify what work will and will not be performed and provide a payment schedule. If you do not have a contract, you are not protected in the event of a problem. Don’t hire anyone who tells you that a contract “won’t be necessary”.

The Home Builders Association of Greater Lansing has a directory of professional renovators in our area dedicated to the highest professional and ethical standards in the home building industry. For more information on finding, evaluating and working with a renovator, contact our office at (517) 323-3254 or visit for a list of professionals.

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