homeowner shaking hands with a contractor

The key to any successful home project lies in assembling the right person or team — professionals who can ensure the job is done effectively, within the established timeline, and without exceeding the budget. Before you say “You’re hired!” to a contractor, here are questions to ask them to ensure that you’re working with a qualified, experienced, and reliable professional for your project.


Ask About Their Professional Background and Expertise

Verifying their professional background helps ensure that the contractor is qualified for the job. It is good practice to request a portfolio of previous projects or ask for references to speak with previous clients about their satisfaction with the contractor’s work.

  • How long have you been in business?
  • Can you provide proof of licensing, certifications, and professional memberships?
  • Who or any past clients I may contact for references?


Discuss Project Scope and Details

Being on the same page about the project scope and details upfront establishes a solid foundation for a successful and transparent working relationship with your contractor.

  • How do you ensure a comprehensive understanding of the project scope?
  • Have you worked on similar projects before?
  • What challenges do you foresee, and what innovative solutions can you propose?


Talk About Budget and Financial Considerations

Discussing money matters upfront promotes transparency, enables realistic planning, and ensures that the project aligns with your financial goals and constraints.

  • What is the total estimated cost of the project?
  • My budget is around $X. Is this realistic?
  • Can you explain the payment structure and milestones?
  • How do you handle contingencies and potential change orders?


Set Communication and Reporting Practices

Clear communication channels enable you to stay informed about the progress of the project, any challenges encountered, and decisions that need to be made promptly. It also helps builds trust between you and the contractor, enhancing the overall working relationship and increasing confidence in the project’s success.

  • What is the best way and time to reach you for any concerns?
  • What is your approach to handling issues and modifications?


Assure Their Knowledge of Local Building Codes

Contractors who are well-versed in local regulations are better equipped to implement safety measures, help avoid penalties and ensures quality workmanship.

  • Are you familiar with San Diego’s building codes and regulations?
  • Will you be responsible for obtaining necessary permits?
  • How do you ensure compliance with local construction standards?


Go Over the Project Timeline

The project timeline is usually outlined in the contract between the homeowner and the contractor. By being on the same page with the timeline beforehand, both parties are clear on their obligations and responsibilities, reducing the likelihood of disputes or misunderstandings later on.

  • What is the estimated timeline for completing the project?
  • How do you handle potential delays, and what measures are in place to stay on schedule?
  • Can you provide a detailed project timeline with milestones?
  • Make sure to document their responses and use this information to make an informed decision. Choosing the right contractor ensures a smoother and more successful project outcome.


Asking the right questions not only minimizes potential stress but also safeguards against unexpected costs that may arise from a less-than-ideal start. If you need help with home improvement, we can refer you to the pros in North San Diego County. Feel free to reach out.