May is just about over, and June is up on deck, which means it's time to say hello to BBQs, beach days, summer vacation, and, yes, home and yard improvement.
If you're outsourcing any of the home improvement tasks, make sure you ask Rhode Island contractors these three important questions (at the very least). This goes for landscapers, electricians, roofers, builders, and the like.
1. What's your fee structure?
Why this question is important: You already know that understanding costs is critical, but make sure you understand exactly how the contractor bills. Hourly? By project? What happens if the contractor encounters something unexpected?
You'll want everything stated clearly in writing. Keep copies of all contracts and any emails as well.
2. Are you licensed and what sort of insurance do you carry?
Why this question is important: Prior to asking this question, make sure you understand the licensing requirements for the worker you're looking to hire. Keep in mind that there may be local requirements in addition to state requirements.
A good place to start is the State of Rhode Island Contractors' Registration and Licensing Board, which includes a regularly updated list of suspended, revoked, and invalidated licenses.
Insurance is also an important question. Choose contractors who have workers' compensation insurance.
3. May I talk to a couple of your customers?
Why this question is important: References matter! Yes, the contractor will provide the names of people who will sing the contractor's praises. But once you get the person on the phone, you can dig deeper and ask more probing questions that matter to you, such as "how were they with deadlines?" and "what sort of condition did they leave your house/yard in?"
Do NOT skip this question, even if you know the contractor and even if a friend or family member referred him or her.
And now a question from us to you: Are you planning a home renovation project this summer? We'd love the opportunity to chat with you. Be sure to visit our home renovation portfolio to see pictures of our work.