So you’ve decided that you want a new floor, but you don’t feel super confident in your own installation abilities. That's okay, just hire a contractor and you're set. Except, that can be a scary task to some first time renovators. Luckily, I’ve got a few questions for you to ask a potential contractor to help ensure you get what you’re looking for.
Are They Licensed?
This is the biggest question for you and your contractor and for some it can be a deal breaker. In addition to offering you peace of mind that they know what they’re doing, being licensed comes with insurance against job related accidents to your home. You can save money by going with someone unlicensed, but if you can afford it, then I would suggest you hire a licensed contractor. The money you save is rarely worth the extra risk you take on.
You can also go an extra step and ask if they are NWFA, National Wood Flooring Association, Certified. Being NWFA Certified means that they are recognized in the industry as among the best in the business. However, NWFA contractors can be harder to find and will generally be more expensive than non-certified contractors.
Are They Insured?
Many flooring contractors will carry liability insurance which works like any other insurance - protecting you and them financially. Accidents can and will happen. Insurance guarantees that you will be covered if something unforeseen happens like accidentally drilling into your water pipe or breaking something valuable.
It's worth noting that even if a contractor isn't licensed, they may still have insurance. However, you won't know until you ask.
Do They Have A Warranty?
A warranty is kind of like insurance, but it protects you after the fact from shoddy work or damages that you may notice over time. Flooring and installation is a big investment, so it only makes sense to cover it under warranty. Ask what they cover and for how long.
References And Reviews
This will be one of the biggest factors in helping you decide between contractors. We’re all willing to look up review after review to find the best taco shop in town, so why not do the same for your flooring investment. Check around and don’t be afraid to even reach out to previous customers if they have given testimonials.
Do They Have A Website?
Just like reviews, check out their website. Again this is a good indication of the level of professionalism you are dealing with. It may also have answers to a lot of your questions before you contact them.
How Do They Plan To Contain The Mess And How Will They Clean Up?
Be clear and upfront about your expectations and what you are getting from them. How do they plan to contain all the dust and waste from the installation? How will they haul off your old flooring? Ask if they have a plan to protect your windows, outlets and any furnishings or appliances in the room. This can save you some serious headaches down the line.
How Long Will The Job Take?
This is one of the most important questions you can ask. It lets you establish a timeline to go off of. Ask them about lead times for products and acclimation of the wood. See if they have any breaks or days off planned. This will help greatly in time management on your part instead of simply guessing.
Ask About Payment
When do they expect to be paid and by what method? It is usually a red flag if they want it all up front, but a deposit is normal with the remainder paid upon completion. So ask when they want payments and how much they expect at certain points. This is also the time to negotiate price and timelines as well as going over expectations.
Some things to be aware of when talking about payment - Most contractors will charge you by the square foot and the price will depend on a number of factors including material, type of installation (floating, glue, etc.), moldings, stairs, and more. Also, demolition and removal of old flooring is usually extra. The only thing you don't pay for is the estimate they give you.
On one final note about payment - Once the job is completed, but before you pay the final remainder, is your opportunity to do a final walk through with the contractor to make sure everything is as agreed upon and looks right. It is much harder to get them back out to your house to fix a mistake after you've payed them and they have packed up and left. So it's better to make sure everything is correct the first time.
These are just some of the questions that you should be asking before hiring a contractor, but the most important takeaway is establishing and maintaining strong communication. You’re better off asking any questions up front, no matter how silly you think they are, than assuming an incorrect answer.
If you still don’t know where to begin, then reach out to your flooring supplier. They will usually have a list of trusted and reliable contractors for you to go by. Thanks for reading and be sure to let us know if you have any questions for us.