18 Questions to Ask Before Hiring


There are really only 2 reasons you need to hire a contractor to help you. You are either planning to make exciting new upgrades to your home or build a new home  –or–  You are forced to hire a contractor to help you rebuild from damage that has been done to your home. One is typically much, much more fun than the other. Never-the-less, it is important that you hire the right person for the job.

Below are 18 questions you can ask any contractor before you hire them. These are all reasonable questions that they should have answers to. We recommend that you get several quotes and interview several contractors before you make a final decision. Often, the lowest quote is NOT the person you want to hire.

Based on the results of your investigation, their quote and recommendations you may have received you should be able to make an informed, educated guess

1.       How long have you been in business?

2.       Are you licensed?

3.       Are you insured?

4.       Do your employees have workman’s comp insurance?

5.       Do you have insurance to protect MY broken property?

6.       What professional Organizations do you belong to?

7.       Can you provide me with references from past jobs?

8.       How many projects will you be handling at the same time as mine?

9.       Will you sign a time & materials contract?

10.   Will you be on-site at all time to oversee work being done?

a.       If not, how often will you stop by to check in

b.       Will there be an onsite manager when you are not here?

11.   Can you provide daily progress reports?

12.   Will you pull the necessary permits?

13.   Will you provide a project scope contract to outline; time, materials needed, cost, and how to handle disputes

14.   Do you offer a guarantee on your work?

15.   What time do you plan to start each day and end? Weekends?

16.   Have you had any legal disputes on past jobs you have done? Explain

17.   What is the payment schedule?

18.   Will you agree to include a termination clause in the contract


Avoid Additional Risks:
Turn off all water and electrical sources within the home.
Inspect for any visible structural damage, such as warping, cracks, loosened foundation elements, and holes before entering the home.
If possible, hire a flood restoration service, preferably with Institute of Inspection, Cleaning, and Restoration Certification.
Seek necessary medical care. Do not neglect minor wounds or illnesses.
Food, clothing, shelter, and first aid are available from the American Red Cross.


Take Pictures:
Take photos or video and fully document the damage for your insurer .

Call Your Insurance Company:

– Notify your insurer soon as possible after the flood
– If the agents are not available,  contact the insurance company’s headquarters.
– Follow the insurance company’s direction about  making any required changes to the property before inspection.
– Start removing water once your insurer asks you to proceed.

Make temporary repairs: Take reasonable steps to protect your property from further damage. Save receipts for what you spend. They can be submitted to your insurance company for reimbursement.
If you need to relocate, keep your receipts: If you need to find other accommodations while your home is being repaired, keep records of your expenses.
Prepare for the adjuster’s visits: Your insurance company may send you a proof of loss form to complete or an adjuster may visit your home first. (An adjuster is a person professionally trained to assess the damage.)

To substantiate your loss, prepare an inventory of damaged or destroyed items and give a copy to the adjuster along with copies of any receipts.

Don’t throw out damaged items until the adjuster has visited.

Flood damage is excluded under standard homeowners and renters insurance policies. Flood coverage, however, is available as a separate policy from the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and from a few private insurers. The NFIP provides coverage up to $250,000 for the structure of the home and $100,000 for personal possessions.

Compensation for Damage
Vehicles: If your car was damaged and you have exstensive coverage in your auto insurance policy, contact your auto insurance company.
Trees and shrubbery: Most insurance companies will pay up to $500 for the removal of trees or shrubs that have fallen on your home.

Registering for FEMA Disaster Assistance
Residents and business owners in designated areas who have sustained losses can begin applying for FEMA assistance by registering online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov.

If you do not have access to the internet you may register by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY). Users of 711 relay or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 800-621-3362 directly. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. (local time) seven days a week until further notice.


Reduce Mold Damage:
– Mold can form within 48 hours; you will need to work fast.
– Mold growth can be controlled on surfaces by cleaning with a non-ammonia detergent or pine oil cleaner and disinfecting with a 10% bleach solution. (Caution: Never mix ammonia and bleach products, as the resulting fumes can be highly toxic.)
– Test the solution on a small just to be sure it doesn’t cause staining or fading.
– Find an open shelter near you by texting SHELTER and your zip code to 4FEMA (43362). You can also use the FEMA mobile app. FEMA is also providing resources for people with disabilities, access and functional needs on its website.
– If you’re considering evacuating your home, the Houston Chronicle is compiling a map of flooded streets.

Shelter and relief
– The U.S. Department of Education activated its emergency response contact center Tuesday. Education stakeholders seeking informational resources and relief from Department-based administrative requirements are encouraged to email HarveyRelief@ed.gov.
– Following reports that several Texans are missing in the midst of the storm, the Red Cross is encouraging people to list themselves and their families as safe by clicking here. You can also receive disaster assistance from the Red Cross by calling 877-500-8645,

Useful Phone Numbers:
*For any assistance you can call FEMA at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY).
*For food, clothing, first aid call Red Cross at 877-500-8645. (or by visiting RedCross.org)
* Texas Department of Insurance’s consumer hotline at 1-800-252-3439.
*Call the State Bar of Texas legal hotline at 800-504-7030 for toll-free answers to basic legal questions
* Harris County: Call 713-308-8580 to locate your towed car.
* To report a missing child, call the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-866-908-9570.
*Talk to a professional about emotional distress by calling the Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990

Useful Links:

Permit or No Permit?


Building Permits
A Building permit is required for construction sites in order to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public. It does so by providing the means for city officials to review the project design and to inspect the site for minimum standards.


Where can I get a permit?

Permits can be applied at Houston Permitting Center’s main office located at
1002 Washington St., Houston, TX 77002.

To apply for trade permits and/or submit plans, you may visit one of our satellite offices located at:
3915 Rustic Woods Dr. Kingwood, TX 77345
3825 Dacoma St. Houston, TX 77092
1335 Regents Park #130 Houston, TX 77058

You can purchase Trade Permits online at:


Hours of operation:
8:00a.m. to 5:00p.m., Monday-Friday
contact: 832.394.9000


What do I need to get a permit?

Building Permit Application
Declaration in Support of Building Permit Application (Individual or Corporate)
Plans must show prescriptive compliance with the 2015 International Energy Conservation Code or include ResCheck or IC3 Compliance Report.
Excavations and Fill Worksheet

Two (2) sets of non-erasable/legible plans including (but limited to):
Plot Plan based on Survey
Building Plans
Foundation plan/sections
Wall sections
Floor, ceiling and roof framing plans
Engineer’s seal (when required)

Fines or Penalties
They range from violation tickets to jail based on the scale and impact of the construction.