Christina and I have been flipping houses for over seven years now, and we’ve learned a lot along the way. And, if you’ve watched Flip or Flop, you’ve seen us learn a lot of things the hard way. For example, you know why I’m not a fan of buying flips sight unseen but why we’ll do it for a really great deal. Sometimes they’re a walk in the park, and sometimes they turn into real money pits.
We couldn’t do all that we do, though, if we didn’t have our awesome contractors. I sometimes get sticker shock when I hear their estimates, but I know that they’re good guys who always have my back. And that’s because I asked them all of the important questions when I hired them. Here’s my checklist of essential questions that tell me whether or not I should hire a potential contractor:
How Many Jobs Are You Set Up to Manage at Once?
Remember that you’re not just interviewing this guy for one job. You’re interviewing him for a potentially lasting work relationship. As you grow your business, you’re going to want to know how many of your rehab projects he can take on at once.
How Many Jobs Do You Have in Progress Right Now?
This will tell you how popular they are. You want a contractor who’s busy but who doesn’t necessarily run at the very limit of his capabilities all the time. You want him to have enough room to take on more work, but you don’t want to choose someone who’s not working at all.
Who’s Going to Be On Site Every Day?
When you show up to see how things are progressing, who will you talk to? Who can you expect to see on the property when you show up? Knowing these things will help you understand how your contractor handles jobs, and it will tell you whether your contractor has a dedicated work crew or whether they do a lot of subcontracting (which you want to avoid when possible).
What Kind of Timeline Can You Give Me for This Project?
How detailed can he get about his team and how long they’ll take to do a specific project? How does that estimate compare with other contractors in your area? If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Either he doesn’t have enough experience to give an accurate estimate or he’s being dishonest.
What Can You Guarantee Me on This Job?
Is he going to be willing to give you a discount if he runs over deadline? Will the work his crew does come with any kind of service warranty? If you aren’t happy with the quality of the work, will he fix it free of charge?
What’s the Worst Project You’ve Ever Done and Why?
The answer to this question will let you know what challenges your contractor has faced and how he’s dealt with them. You’ll come away understanding what stresses him out the most and how well he’s equipped to deal with those stressors on the job.
Can I Get a Written Estimate?
Finally, don’t forget to get an estimate in writing from each contractor you interview. If you don’t, it’s going to be your word against his if there are any problems. And if you remember the estimate differently, you’re both going to be pretty unhappy when disagreements happen.
Ask these questions, and you’ll have a good idea of whether or not you’re talking to the right contractor for your jobs. You really can’t be too thorough, though, so don’t hesitate to add a few of your own. Flipping houses with a great contractor is a breeze, but getting the wrong one for the job can be a nightmare!