If this is the first time you’re thinking about hiring a general contractor, then you must be pretty confused about the things you should keep in mind prior to hiring him. In fact, there are many questions that you should ask a general contractor before hiring him and that is why in the paragraphs below we’ve come up with a set of at least a dozen of them to help you make the right decision.
Questions about permits, guarantees, insurance and licensing
Do you have a license?
If you want to protect yourself, then you certainly need to ask the general contractor if he is licensed. If the contractor is licensed, then it means that he has passed a written test and he is up to date with the latest building practices and codes.
Do you have general liability insurance?
This is a certain type of insurance which is going to protect you against the negligence of the contractor’s employees or of the contractor himself. Don’t just ask about it, but request that the contractor gives you proof of it.
Do you carry workers compensation insurance?
This is yet another important question to ask. That’s because if the contractor doesn’t have this type of insurance, then if someone is going to get injured on your premises, you’re going to be liable for it.
Do you offer a work guarantee?
Asking about guarantees is very important, since if something goes wrong, then you’re going to know exactly how it can be solved.
How are you going to deal with the potential issues arising after the initial build?
Make sure to ask this question in order to see exactly who the contractor is going to handle these potential problems.
Do you offer written lien waivers?
When you have a lien waiver, then this is official proof that you’ve paid the contractor. By having it, you can easily prevent payment disputes.
Will you obtain all the required building permits?
This is something that generally takes a lot of time, stress and money. Therefore, many contractors are going to avoid it. However, make sure that the contractor you plan on hiring does pull the required permits.
Questions About Billing and Cost
Would you please itemize your bid?
To take the mystery out of the billing process, make sure the contractor itemizes his bid.
Is your bid an estimate or a fixed price?
After you receive a bid, ask to see if it’s an estimate or a fixed price.
What’s the bottom line?
Even if the bid is a fixed price or estimate, you should still inquire what the all end cost is going to be. This is going to prevent any mysteries shrouding the bid and help you plan properly and take informed decisions.
What do I have to put down?
Each contractor has a different deposit requirement. To play it safe, make sure you secure a lower deposit amount and try to be clear on this prior to reaching any agreements.
Can you tell me more about your main suppliers?
To ensure you’re paying a fair price for the materials, you should ask the contractor about his suppliers.
Is the job going to be subcontracted?
Gauging the overall cost of the project can be done by inquiring about whether the contractor plans on subcontracting the job or not. Try to also get more info on the companies that may work on your project.
How do you deal with change orders?
During the overall construction process, some changes are certainly going to take place and that’s exactly why it’s important to get a better understanding of the process for change orders and how their price is going to be determined.
Questions Concerning The Process
Who’s going to be in charge when the project starts?
Ask this question to know who is going to handle the daily operations, if there’s going to be a general contractor present or maybe a foreman and if you can also meet the individual that’s in charge.
How will you minimize the inconvenience to me and my family?
If you’re living near or at the site where the project is taking place, then don’t forget to ask about this. Since you’re paying them, they should make sure you family and you aren’t bothered too much by the building process.
Questions Concerning The Company
Do you provide references in writing?
If you want to learn more about what others are saying about the company, make sure to ask for written references.
Are you a member of any professional organizations?
This is a great question if you want to get a better idea of the overall level of experience and expertise the contractor has.
Can you tell me more about the number of similar projects you’ve completed this past year?
To pinpoint exactly how experienced they are at completing projects such as yours, ask them about how many of them they completed in the past.
How many projects do you currently work on?
Too few or too many projects handled at the same time can signal bad news, so don’t take a decision of hiring a contractor if they fall in any of these extremes.
What’s your business history?
As you can see, this is a broad question, but it allows you to get a general feel for the contractor’s dedication, passion and experience.
Bonus Question That Applies To All Categories
Can I get that in writing?
It’s always recommended that you get answers or basically anything concerning the project and the terms and conditions surrounding it, in writing. As always, having it in writing is going to weigh a lot more than receiving it verbally only.
Keep in mind that if you want to make sure your project is going to be completed on time, on budget and with great results, then you need to look for a general contractor that you can afford and one that you can also trust. Since you’re going to be working with him for quite a while, you need to feel like you’re both part of the same team.
By asking him these question, you’re certainly going to feel at ease concerning the way the project will unfold, how long it’s going to take until it’s completed and the quality you can expect the contractor to deliver.