What Questions Should I Ask A Home Remodel Contractor?

Homeowners don’t remodel often and shouldn’t be expected to know what to ask besides how much and how long will the project take.

Many Phoenix homeowners ask us “What questions should I ask other contractors?”  

We have found there are 4 main stages in the process, so we broke down the questions specific to each stage to make it easier for homeowners.

If you would like, we can email a template of these questions you can quickly copy and paste to easily send to other contractors.

Stage 1: Before you reach out to ANY contractors 

(Regardless if they are a referral, you still want to research them)

No one wants to waste their time. 

Before reaching out to remodel companies and asking them question, following these simple steps will reduce the amount of people that could cause you stress and make your life more difficult.

Check their online reviews on 3rd party websites

  • This may seem basic but some people skip this step...
  • If you find a negative review, see what the merit of the complaint is and match up if that is important to you. For example if the review mentions it took the contractor 2 extra weeks to finish, if that’s one of your top priorities then you may not want to go further in the process.
  • If 95% of them aren’t 5 star reviews then you want to skip them. It’s not worth the risks.

Review their website

  • Does it seem like they care about their clients?
  • Is keeping your house clean mentioned on their website?
  • Do they let homeowners know what their process looks like & what is entailed?
  • Do they have a guarantee on both their workmanship and materials?
  • Do they have a link to their BBB rating and is it at least an A-?
  • Do they have plenty of photos showing work they have completed for other clients?

Search this phrase on Google:   “(Company name) issues

  • This is a great way to find problems with the company. Most people just search the name and leave it at that.  This simple search helps find the stuff that might be hidden or hard to locate.
  • Just make sure that it is the same company. For example if a company has the name “ABC Remodeling” and someone left a negative comment for “ABCD Remodeling” you might qualify them out even though it’s not the same company.


Just by following those quick steps, you will eliminate about half of the remodeling companies and it will make your life much easier! 

Stage 2: Before they come out to your house 

Time is precious and a quick phone call can help you determine if you should have the contractor come to your home.

Don’t waste your time having a stranger meet you if it’s a bad fit and you wouldn’t hire them either way.

Are you licensed, bonded and insured?

  • If you didn’t get the opportunity to do this when researching their website, you want to ask them for their ROC number and then put it into the search bar at the top right of https://roc.az.gov/
  • 1st look for any discrepancy in their name. If it is a different name, that could be a huge red flag but you want to contact the remodeler to find out why. As mentioned earlier, there are construction companies that provide fake information and unfortunately it hurts the homeowners like the homeowner in this news article: ​https://www.abc15.com/news/let-joe-know/when-a-renovation-goes-terribly-wrong
  • The 2nd thing to look for is complaints, what the complaint is for, the validity of the complaint and if it is resolved.

​Do you use BuildClean or similar large air filters to reduce dust and harmful contaminates?

  • Remodeling dust can contain lead, silica mold spores and insect dander that you don’t want contaminating your home.
  • ​These dust particles settle on curtains, furniture, your air ducts, and many other places. This can be a serious health risk to a homeowner and their family.
  • Along with the health issues, it is frustrating to have dust all over your home and personal possessions.

​Do you have a written agreement we review and sign before starting the project?

  • BY ARIZONA LAW: Projects over $1,000 require an agreement.
  • If they aren’t willing to provide an agreement or contract to you then the contractor either doesn't know what they are doing or are hiding something. Either one is terrible.
  • You want to work with a company that spells everything out. A contract is there to protect you and the contractor. 

Do you use project management software?  If so what is the name of the software?

  • If they don't use project management software specific to remodeling such as BuilderTrend, BuildTools or CoConstruct you want to run away as fast as you can. We use BuilderTrend.
  • ​The benefit of this software is every detail right from the start is documented. This includes homeowner questions, comments and pictures. Communication is fast & easy which ensures everyone is kept in the loop and knows what is happening.
  • Not using construction project management software will also create mistakes like forgetting to order things on time and making errors that they end up charging you for. This is one of the main reasons contractors increase the price once the project starts.

​Who will be my point of contact?

  • You should get a dedicated Project Manager. If not, you’ll probably have to communicate with a person who handles too many things like, finances, customer questions, coordinating employees, coordinating trade partners, marketing, calling new prospective clients, etc.
  • You don’t want to compete for the remodeler's attention if they have to handle too many other things.
  • If they are juggling a lot of stuff, they can't give you the service you need, regardless of how good their intentions.

Do you require us to have all the selection items (materials like faucets, tile, countertops) chosen before we start?

  • If they do not, this is a huge red flag because it means the project will get pushed out and you’ll have construction workers in your house longer. By choosing the design elements before starting it will speed up the process considerably.
  • Example: They don’t require you to pick your faucet or sink and when the countertop fabricator comes out, if they don’t know the sink dimension and faucet information like 1 or 2 holes, they can’t fabricate the countertops. That’s one of many examples that can push your project back weeks and even months.
  • Some contractors want to get the projects started ASAP so they get paid fast, but this can prolong the amount of the time the project goes on for.

​Will you be able to provide me references if we get a proposal?

  • Talk is cheap. A good remodeling company will be able to provide referrals from past clients to back up their claims. 
  • ​We have a list of questions you will want to ask the references on this post at the last stage, which is questions to ask after receiving the proposal.

What is the remodel project payment schedule?

  • Some contractors like to ask for 50% up front. We feel that is too much and ask for 30%. A lot of items have to be ordered before starting the project, but because of the issues in this industry 50% is a lot. Of course never pay more than 50% up front. 
  • ​It’s important to discuss payment terms before construction begins, and be aware of exactly how much is due and when, perhaps by specific dates or based on completed stages of the project.

Stage 3: At the in-home remodel visit

At this point, anyone walking into your home will have been vetted reducing the chance of you wasting your time or working with a bad contractor.  

The in-home evaluation is a good time to get to know each other and see if it will be a good fit for everyone, both from a personal and remodel project standpoint.

​Can I see your license and proof of general liability insurance?

  • Many contractors don’t have this or don’t carry it with them. It is very important and they should take it seriously.

​Roughly how long will it take to complete the project?

  • This is a good question to not only get the answer but to see if they are realistic or just trying to earn your business.

​What is your lead time to start the project?

  • On one hand you want someone who can start fast, but you also want someone who plans everything out.
  • If they do a good job planning ahead, the project finishes sooner which means you have construction people in your house for less time.

​Does your company clean up after themselves and how often?

  • While construction is messy it is best if the remodeler cleans up each evening before leaving. It obviously doesn’t need to be spotless but sweeping up and removing harmful items is important.

​What steps do you take to protect my home?

  • Depending on the situation, they should use drop cloths, or adhesive plastic on the floor. We also like to use plastic zip walls to contain the dust and mess.

​What do you do with the tools in my home?

  • Hopefully they take most of them out of your house each evening. If not, then you want them to store the tools in the construction area away from children or pets.

​What do you do with the tools in my home?

  • Hopefully they take most of them out of your house each evening. If not, then you want them to store the tools in the construction area away from children or pets.

Stage 4: After you receive their remodel proposal

At this point, you'll have better companies providing proposals, so you don't have to weed through as many people that could end up disappointing you and causing extra stress and having to spend more money. Here are the questions to ask them:

​Does this include the cost for my selection items I will need to pick out such as faucets, sinks, tile, electrical fixtures, plumbing fixtures, countertops, etc?

  • This is an important question to ask a home remodeler because some companies do not include an allowance for each selection. This can be a jarring surprise for a homeowner when they realize they have to spend thousands of dollars more than what the proposal showed.

​Call their references! If they don’t proactively have references for you at the time of providing the proposal, ask them why not.

  • Check the names they give you on social media to see if they are family members and not clients.
  • When you have their references, here are the questions you want to ask them:
  • What type of project did the remodeling company complete for you?
  • Did they keep the area clean?
  • Did they use large dust filters?
  • Were they easy to work with?
  • How was their communication?
  • Were they good about getting back to you quickly?
  • How long did it take to finish your project?
  • Did they change the price on you (except changes you asked them to make or something they could not have known until the demolition was completed)?

​How will changes be handled?

  • You want to see if they will tell you about a change right when it happens. Also look to see if they value communication.
  • If there is a change you want to make, or something we find after doing demo that is new, we explain it to you, review it and then do what is called a change work order. The change work order makes everything very clear and it is inside the homeowner portal so you always have access to it. You approve the change order inside the software so there are no financial surprises.

​How do we resolve any disagreements?

  • This is a crucial question because, unfortunately, mistakes and disagreements do sometimes occur despite the best intentions of contractors and homeowners. Asking a contractor how he handles disputes tells you that they have a process for taking care of situations in which clients aren’t fully satisfied.

​Does this include the cost for my selection items I will need to pick out such as faucets, sinks, tile, electrical fixtures, plumbing fixtures, countertops, etc?

  • This is an important question to ask a home remodeler because some companies do not include an allowance for each selection. This can be a jarring surprise for a homeowner when they realize they have to spend thousands of dollars more than what the proposal showed.

​Are there any other additional costs that could be incurred besides if I make a change to the scope of work?

  • Asking an open ended question like this helps to see if there are other things that they may not have included on the proposal.

If you would like, we can email a template of these questions you can quickly copy and paste to easily send to other contractors.

Those are the main questions to ask a remodel contractor

We hope these questions help you avoid some of the contractors that give the remodel industry a bad name. 

We pride ourselves on being professional, honest and trustworthy partners in creating your dream remodeled space.

If you haven't already, fee free to see if we will be a good fit for your remodel project.