Questions to Ask Before You Hire a Contractor - Article Banner

You might have noticed that paying for maintenance, rehabs, or even small renovation projects has become more expensive. 

With prices for materials, supplies, and labor pushing higher and higher, you need to be strategic and careful when you’re completing work on your rental property

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do the work. Taking care of repairs and preventative maintenance items is essential in protecting the condition and value of your property. You also want to keep up with improvements and upgrades so your property continues to earn high rents and attract good tenants

You’ll need a team of vendors and contractors. 

Where do you find them? 

Whether you’re making some renovations during a turnover or getting your new investment property into rent-ready condition, most real estate investors and landlords will need a contractor at some point while renting out a home. 

It’s not always easy to find contractors you can trust, especially if you’ve never worked with them before. 

As you begin getting referrals from people who have professional contractors to recommend and you start reaching out to different individuals and companies, put together a process for yourself to ensure you’re working with reliable, trustworthy people. 

We always start by confirming the contractor is licensed and insured. We evaluate experience and qualifications, and we look at the previous work they’ve completed that’s similar to the projects we have in mind. 

And then we come to the point where we want to interview a potential contractor and ask some questions. 

What should you ask? 

Here are some great starting points. These questions should lead to larger discussions that are likely to answer even more questions. 

First, Ask About a Contractor’s Business Practices 

You’ll want to dive into conversation about what you need. You’ll want to talk about your specific project and the work you’ll need at your rental home. 

First, talk to the potential contractor about how they handle their business operations. This will tell you if your business values align and if you think you’ll work well together. 

Ask these questions when you meet to interview contractors and get to know them better: 

  • How many years have you been in your field?
  • How do you stay up to date on your area of specialization?
  • Do you work with subcontractors? How are they chosen? Will they be the same every day or are different people brought in throughout the project?
  • Do you offer warranties? How do you stand by your work?
  • What kind of insurance do you carry?
  • How do you dispose of garbage and waste?
  • What are your general working hours?
  • How do you handle it when work falls behind? 

You’re asking questions such as these because you’re looking for a sense of what it will be like to have your contractor and their team at the property. You need to know if the same crew of people will show up every day or if there will be different workers coming and going. You want to know if you can expect them before daybreak or on weekends. 

Always ask how a contractor handles permits, disputes, and disruptions. 

Next, Discuss the Needs of Your Rental Property 

Once you’ve established that you’re talking with a contractor who is dependable and professional, you’ll need to ask some questions about how they will handle the project you need them to complete. Whether you need help with some drywall or a complete bathroom renovation, you might want to ask questions such as:

  • What kind of projects have you done like this? Can you show or cite some examples? 
  • Will you provide a quote? Is it estimated or fixed? Is it itemized?  
  • What is the realistic timeline for this project? 
  • Can you apply for and obtain the appropriate permits? 

These questions will allow you to get to know the contractors you’re interviewing. You’ll have a way to understand how they do business and what they can do for you in terms of the work you need at your rental property. Always measure the scope of work against the cost of the project as well, and make sure you’re getting the value you expect. 

Where to Find Potential Contractors in Santa Clara County

Now that you know what you’ll ask when you do have the opportunity to interview potential contractors, where can you find them? 

In some cases, their marketing is hard to miss. You might easily see advertisements, billboards, branded vehicles, and even online ads for contractors in your area. 

It might require a little bit of digging though, especially if you want to find a good one. 

Use online resources or check with your personal network and community for referrals. If you notice another property in the neighborhood having work done, check in with the homeowner and ask about the contractors. You can also inquire at local hardware stores. Talk to real estate agents, property managers, and even brokers and other service providers. Your cleaning crew might know someone who does roofing, or your HVAC technician can probably put you in touch with a contractor they work with from time to time. 

Always verify licensure and insurance. Always do some initial online checking around so you can get a feel for reputation and reliability. Then, have a conversation. Ask all the questions that come to mind, and don’t hire any contractors that are not able to answer your questions. 

You want the right contractor for the right project. And you have to be realistic about availability. Contractors are busy, especially in the current economy. 

Maintenance ServicesWe understand the importance of contractors. In fact, we wouldn’t be able to provide our exceptional maintenance and management services without a reliable team of vendors and contractors. If you have any questions about what we’ve talked about, or if you need a referral, please contact us at Metro Property Management. We’re a San Jose, California based property management company serving Santa Clara County, including South County, Campbell, Saratoga, Cupertino, Sunnyvale, Los Gatos, Milpitas, and the surrounding areas.