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Top 5 questions you're scared to ask your home improvement contractor, but shouldn't be

Here at Archadeck of Kansas City, one of the things we’re very passionate about is ensuring that homeowners make the best decision for their home improvement contractor. We want homeowners to make the best investment decision for their needs, wants and budget. Over the last 18 years, we’ve met with thousands of homeowners over their kitchen table or in their living room. We’ve heard many, many questions. We also realize that sometimes homeowners don’t ask all the questions they should or they don’t ask the right questions. Homeowners may feel uncomfortable asking certain questions. We want you to know that you can and should ask any qualifying, evidentiary and background question you have.

Here are the 5 questions we think homeowners may be afraid to ask the prospective contractor, but should not be.

Is the contractor licensed & Insured?

This is a tricky question because contractors may have one particular license but may need to have several different licenses to operate in all the areas they build. It’s important to ask the contractor what kind of city and/or county licenses are required of a contractor building the project the type of project they’re building in the area where they’re building it. In order to build your contract, your builder may need to be licensed both with the city and with the state. In addition, the subcontractors such as electricians and plumbers are also required to be licensed. It’s fair game to ask about the subcontractors and ensure they are also properly licensed for your project.

How many years have you been in business?

As gracious adults, we often think it’s in poor taste to ask questions about someone’s background. When you’re making a significant investment, it’s not in poor taste at all. In fact, if the contractor has great experience, they’ll be delighted to share their past professional experience with you. What is the right answer? You want a contractor with quite a few years of experience. That might be 10 years, 12 years or more. But, determine the number of years’ experience you are looking for before you ask the question.

How long will it take to build my project from start to finish?

When you ask this question, you want to look for some sort of reasonable and believable response. If the builder begins by telling you they have other projects they’ll be working on or that they don’t know when subcontractors will be available, you might want to be somewhat skeptical. At Archadeck, we have long-established relationships with the various key subcontractors such as electricians and roofers. We are able to estimate time frames wisely. Another thing we do at Archadeck of Kansas City is staying one job until it’s finished. A lot of projects can take only 2 -3 weeks since we don’t stop working on a project until it’s completed.

How many of that type of project has that builder built before?

This is absolutely a fair question. Would you trust your new deck project with a company that has built only 3 decks? Only 10 decks? Like the question above, determine the experience level you are looking for before you ask. At Archadeck of Kansas City, we’ve built hundreds of outdoor living spaces right here in the Kansas City market. Be specific about your question. If you’re building a porch with an outdoor fireplace, ask the contractor how many porches they’ve built that include an outdoor fireplace. The contractor may be an experienced outdoor builder but may not have experience with the type of project you’re seeking.

Ask for references, and check them!

Many, if not most, contractors will be gracious and engaging when they’re discussing your project with you. You want to be confident that the entire project will go that smoothly and will be that enjoyable. Ask the contractor for a few references and make sure to call them. Determine a few good questions ahead of time. You may want to ask those homeowners to confirm the answers the builder told you to the questions above. Since you’ll also have a work crew in your backyard for a number of weeks, you’ll also want to ask other homeowners about their experience in having that crew in their yard for a period of time.

When you’re making an investment in your home, you owe it to yourself to secure answers to all the questions you have. If the contractor is unwilling or unable to answer important questions, it might be a sign to move on and look at other options.

If you’re considering adding an outdoor living space to your Kansas City area backyard, give us a call for a free consultation at (913) 704-6240 or drop us an email. We look forward to discussing your project with you.