If you’re a property owner looking to hire a building contractor for your renovation project, here are some questions to think about.

1.   What are your expectations for this project?

Do you have strong ideas about design? What are your design preferences?

2.  What are the ‘ball park’ estimated costs?

Ask yourself how much you can realistically afford to spend

3.  How will you be financing the project?

4.  How long do you intend to live at the property?

5.  When do you want to hold the weekly construction meeting? 

Weekly meetings are essential to update you while not interrupting building work during the week with questions that can actually wait.   The meeting should be held at the same time each week, and the morning is preferable, says David Lupberger, home-improvement expert. “In the afternoon, the homeowner is in no hurry and loves to talk about his project,” he says. “In the morning, we all have places we have to be, so we stay focused.”

6.  Are we prepared for the time it may take to get approvals in place before commencing construction?

Does this program fit with my plans, e.g. having children, etc?

7.  Do you know great trades people, a building designer or architect who can help you work out what to do?

8. When can we start work? 

This includes start and end times, whether work can be done on weekends and other scheduling requirements.

9.  How soon would you like to be settled into your new home or extension?

Are there rigid time constraints?

10. Who do we contact for decisions?

 Contact points are critical, as is timing. Limiting when the lead carpenter is available for questions (he suggests the first and last 15 minutes of the day’s schedule) ensures work isn’t interrupted yet provides homeowner access. Likewise, the contractor must know which family member has the final say if a decision must be made immediately without worry of being overruled later.

11. May we take photos of the existing rooms?

Photographing walls, windows, doors, and all finishes in rooms accessed by the crews will ensure no disagreements over whether cracks or breakage occurred prior to or during construction.

12. Is the work area secure? 

Determine if all furniture will be removed, where tools will be stored, if deliveries can be made in the driveway or the garage.

13. Is there any way we can lessen the construction impact for you?

Discuss the sensitive portions of the work area with the client and explain what protective measures will be taken, and how landscaping will be protected. Explain dust-containment procedures and let the homeowner know what protective materials will remain in place during work. Also explain daily clean-up activities and what will remain each day.

14. Have you made arrangements for all family members and pets?

The homeowners must secure all pets and children away from the site. “Contractors can’t spend time chasing dogs if a door is left open and he runs out,” stresses Lupberger. “You cannot be responsible for children and animals.”

15. May we use personal areas of the home?

Some homeowners will allow use of bathrooms or provide a smoking area, but check first. You don’t want a homeowner arriving and thinking his home is being misused. Lusk stresses to the client that crews are not allowed to have liquor at the site or play music, including loud music from a truck.

16. Have you removed everything that you want to keep?

Some items may have sentimental attachment for the homeowner or may be resold. Lusk stresses that all attached items in the renovated area become the company’s property when demolition begins and can be removed as needed.

17. Do you understand the post-construction process?

Lusk explains what the final punch-list procedure will offer, notes that any product warranties will be provided and detailed. He also stresses that the new spaces cannot be occupied until the work is completed.