Angie's List: Questions to ask when hiring a contractor

LEWISTON, ID - A person's house is often their biggest asset, so we try to do as much as we can to avoid a hiring disaster.

In today's Angie's List report, why the questions you ask are important when hiring a contractor.

"Remodeling is very popular category on Angie's List and it's also a big investment in time and money from a homeowner's perspective," said Angie's List Owner, Angie Hicks. "Be sure you are investing in the time upfront to make sure you get the right contractor who is going to do the job you want. What many consumers may not realize is that it's important spending time interviewing your contractor and ask them questions just beyond the basic scope of the work. You really want to get to know them because you are going to be spending a lot of time with them over the course of the project and you want to know how you are going to be able to relate to them and talk to them about changes that might come up in the middle of the job."

"To me, being involved - it's just like your car, everything else - it's an investment," said homeowner Gordon Welt. "If you're not involved you don't have an excuse for the product you get at the end. So, take the initiative. Be involved and speak up during the whole process and that's the only way you can get a good product at the end."

"When interviewing your contractor you want to use some of the same skills you might use when interviewing someone for a job at work," said Hicks. "You want to ask open-ended questions because you'll learn a lot more about how they'll handle situations. One of my favorite questions is to ask them about a job that didn't go right and how they fixed it."

"Some of the questions we were going through on zoning - has he ever built out here?" said Welt. "Has he ever dealt with this county? Did he have a good relationship before then? How easy was it going to get this accomplished? He was very, very knowledgeable during the estimate and some of the ideas he was coming up with he was able to do the math calculations there. He didn't have to go back to a computer. I knew he was experienced and some of the terms he was using were very easily conveyed to me as a customer and being able to get our ideas on paper before he even left to do the estimate."

"The most important questions homeowners can ask when hiring a contractor is whether they trust their gut instinct," said Hicks. "Follow your gut instinct when interviewing especially if you're doing a kitchen remodel because you are going to have this company or contractors in your home for a long time. In fact, they kind of become a part of your family."

There's a lot riding on any home improvement project, including time and money, so never hire someone you don't feel comfortable with. Always treat hiring like building a relationship rather than just carrying out a transaction. It'll put you more at ease with any decision you make regarding your home.