August 05, 2014

Contractor Screening Tips

An Interview with Randy Bonnevie of Bonnevie Construction, Inc for New England Home Magazine.

Tell us a little bit about your company and its foundation.

Bonnevie Construction was established in 1987 as a residential remodeling contractor and has built an extensive list of references dating back almost three decades now. Bonnevie Construction Inc. offers a wide range of residential construction, renovation and remodeling services in Southern NH and Northern MA. Using an exclusive 7 step design build process that’s guides you through the daunting tasks of design and product selection. Using 3D CAD design software we work with the client to design a product that is uniquely there’s and manage the project through Construction and final walk-through.

How should homeowners begin their search for their new contractor?

The best way to find a good contractor is by word of mouth, but when you’re new to an area that can be difficult. Begin your search for competent, reliable, and honest remodelers in your own neighborhood. Take a drive to discover where remodeling jobs are underway and begin collecting names. Most remodelers will post signs promoting their services in front of homes in which they are working. Also look for other clues such as trade contractors vans or trucks or construction dumpsters. Whether you see a sign identifying the remodeler or not, knock on the door and speak with the homeowner.

Better remodelers understand that if they do a good job, they’re usually guaranteed more work in that neighborhood. I know of no better source of high-quality referrals than a happy homeowner, so the better remodelers will work hard to leave a legacy of satisfied customers.

Another source of leads is friends or colleagues at work or school, clubs, professional organizations, or charity or service organizations you belong to. Be bold! The more people you ask, the more names you’ll be able to gather. Be sure the people recommending the remodeler have personal experience with his or her work.

You may find your next step, contacting these homeowners, to be quite engaging. I have found that many people who have recently completed a remodeling project want to talk about it. These folks are overflowing with information from this once-in-a-lifetime experience and are full of stories they may want to share. Your visit with them will be well worth the time.

And not only are their memories of the stories, characters, and events fresh, but of their memories of the emotional roller coaster are as well. Your connection with these homeowners will be valuable both for the information they provide and the perspective they bring. They’ll want to share their highs and lows with you because they’ve been in your shoes, and they know something about how you’re feeling at this point in the process.

What are 5 questions homeowners should ask prospective contractors?

Business Identity

  • Have you completed a job similar to this before? (Ask if you may see it or have the clients name and number.)
  • Do you have a list of references that I can contact?
  • How long has the company been in business?
  • What is its permanent business address?
  • Are they licensed to work in your area?
  • What year was the business initially licensed or established?

Business Practices

  • What will the payment or draw schedule look like?
  • How does the company ensure that warranty service complaints are effectively handled?
  • How does the company maintain good customer relations throughout the construction and warranty period?
  • In case of any accident, is the company insured against workers’ compensation claims, property damage, or personal liability?

When should homeowners discuss prices and payments with their new contractor?

From the beginning of the design process a professional remodeler should ask what your rough budget is and provide price checks and value engineering to help you stay within your preliminary design budget. This term means the remodeling team will keep your budget in mind throughout the design process. With the company’s extensive experience in remodeling, it can help “engineer” certain features in your home in a cost effective way. Failure to provide these ideas suggests a remodeler may not be interested in keeping you within budget. You should never feel pressure from your remodeler to expand your budget. Rather, the remodeling team should work to keep construction costs down as much as possible and stay within those budgets set unless YOU the homeowner decide to change or add items.

What do you believe is the best way to tell of a contractor’s worth?(i.e. testimonials, their website, face-to-face interacts, Yelp scores, personal recommendations etc.)

All the above?But, you must do you’re due diligence and interview past clients, look at previous projects as well as looking at their web site and checking out their testimonials. Quality design/build or remodeling companies will spend the time to do a good web site that outline the company mission as well as other important information. Social media sites like Facebook, Manta & Yelp will also help to identify the company’s worth if the site is complete because they are willing to take the time to highlight their accomplishments and showcase their projects.

Places like Angie’s List or Home Advisor are not as reliable as you may think as they are taking money from not only the contractor but from the home owner as well?so where does their loyalty really lay, the customer or the contractor? People can post anything on these sites without ever having spoken with or having any work done in the past with that prospective contractor. You could miss out on a quality construction firm and not ever know it. You must call on your prospective contractor’s references at a minimum to really get the full picture. Visit some of their past projects as well as current ones and talk to past clients.

What’s the best way for people to get in contact with you?

Best way is to call us at; in MA 978-388-6044 or NH 603-580-5680 or email us at

We are also very easy to find on the web at any of the below listed sites;


We service a number of towns including (but not limited to) Amesbury MA, Newbury MA, Newburyport MA, Exeter NH, Hampton NH, North Hampton NH, Rye NH, Portsmouth NH, and many many more.

– See more at: