Licensing requirements vary widely from one state to another (or sometimes even from one city to another), so it's important not to assume that a contractor is bonded, licensed, and insured. Make sure your contractor has the relevant certifications for their field; a business license alone isn't enough, as it only means they can operate a business and doesn't necessarily mean they are a credentialed contractor.
Not every renovation project will require permits and inspections, but if any changes are made to your home's structure, then these will probably be required. Most contractors will obtain the proper permits and set up the necessary inspections on your behalf.
While unexpected circumstances can crop up and alter the timeline over the course of the project, you should have a general timeframe of when your project will start and when it will be completed. Find out if your contractor is currently or is expecting to be working on other projects that could affect your own project, and ask how changes to the timeline will be addressed.
You should never pay for the entire project upfront, and if a contractor asks for the full amount before the project even begins, that's a red flag. Before the project begins, it's important to talk to your contractor to find out how much is due and when.
What time will work begin each day, and what time will the work end? How will they clean up at the end of a work day, and where will tools and materials be stored? Knowing how a contractor orders their day will help you know if their schedule is compatible with yours.
These are just a few of the questions you should discuss with your contractor before hiring them. By fostering open communication right from the start, you can ensure that the whole process is as smooth and enjoyable as possible.