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three people huddled around a computer screen resting on a vehicle.
three people huddled around a computer screen resting on a vehicle.

Your initial meeting with a contractor is a chance to get a feel for what it will be like to work closely with this person. You should walk away from this meeting feeling not only satisfied but also confident that your dreams are in capable hands. We’re sharing some helpful questions to guide your initial conversation to ensure that your project not only meets your expectations but exceeds them. 

As part of Yardzen’s Pro Promise, Yardzen’s Build Concierge team is here to help manage your installation project and assist with contractor communications.

When would you be able to take on my project?
Ask for an estimated start and completion date for your project. Understanding the timeline helps you plan accordingly and manage expectations.

What permits are needed?
Inquire about the necessary permits for your project. A reputable contractor should be knowledgeable about local building codes and regulations.

How do you handle payments?
Clarify the payment schedule and method. Make sure you understand when and how payments are expected. Never pay the full amount up front, and understand your state laws around contractor deposits and payments.

Who will be on site to manage my project?
Determine who will be the project manager or point of contact on-site. It’s essential to know who to communicate with throughout the project.

What is included in the quote?
Request a detailed breakdown of the project cost and scope of work. A good estimate will clearly spell out material types and amounts. Some estimates call out “material allowances” which means that if the material you select is more expensive the price may go up. You should discuss this with the contractor. Yardzen is here to help, we’re happy to provide reviews on the quotes you receive from contractors.

How do you handle change orders?
Discuss the process for making changes to the project’s scope, timeline, or budget. You’ll always want to ensure it’s documented and agreed upon in writing.

What is the warranty policy?
Inquire about any warranties or guarantees on the work performed. Most contractors offer warranties in their range of three months to one year for plants and even longer for hardscaping elements like patios and decks. One exception is large-scale concrete pours. Few contractors will warranty to cover cracking or staining as those are common drawbacks to that material.

What is your experience with similar projects?
Yardens’ Pro Network Recommendations are trusted pros who have completed projects similar to yours for other Yardzen Clients, but it’s always helpful to hear about their experience directly! Contractors with relevant experience are often better equipped to handle specific challenges. 

How will you handle site cleanup?
Discuss how the contractor plans to clean up the site and dispose of debris during and after the project. It’s reasonable to expect that the contractor will spend a few minutes at the end of the day picking up any garbage. It’s also important to consider portable bathrooms if you don’t want the crew coming in and out of your house. 

How do you communicate during the project? Are you open to daily contact, or do you usually provide once-a-week recaps?
Establish clear communication expectations, including how and when the contractor will be available for updates or questions. Response times are usually less than 24 hours Long delays in response times are a red flag. The mode of communication is also important. If you prefer a phone call over texts or emails, be sure to say so now.

How often do you meet with clients during the build phase?
Schedule face-to-face meetings to keep the project on track and everyone accountable. Be sure to review the work at designated benchmarks tied to progress payments. 

Will you subcontract any work?
Inquire about subcontractors, if any, who will be working on your project. Ensure they meet the same standards as the primary contractor.

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