Questions to Ask When Hiring a General Contractor


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

011 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.

011 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.

011 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.

011 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.

011 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.

011 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.

011 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

011 Would you please itemize your bid?

To take the mystery out of the billing process, make sure the contractor itemizes his bid.

011 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.

011 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.

011 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.

011 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.

011 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.

011 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

011 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.

011 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

011 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.

011 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.

011 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.

011 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.

011 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

011 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.

How to Restore House Brick Elevation

Today we’ll talk a little about a typical restoration type of a project often managed by a general contractor. Although the described brick restoration procedures are basically identical in all parts of US, masonry structures located in areas with fluctuating weather (warm during the summer and cold/freezing in winter months, suffer the most. Described below tips are based on a feedback from a few masonry contractors tuckpointing Chicago brick walls for decades.

We all know that bricks are excellent building materials, but the truth is that after many years of being exposed to the elements the joints will crumble and the bricks are going to fall out of the old mortar. In the end, water will penetrate the resulting gap, destroying the material.

Washing of the brick facade


If the bricks are just lightly soiled, then they can be easily cleaned up using pressured water. It’s recommended that this treatment is considered when the outside temperature doesn’t drop below freezing during the procedure and for a few days after . When cleaning the bricks, it’s recommended that you don’t use tools with metal tips and wire brushes. Prior to beginning to clean the bricks, make sure that you have wiped the brick by hand using either half a brick or if it’s more comfortable for you, a wooden trowel.

The patches of clinker need to be carefully removed using water and if you have the time, you should leave them so they are dried naturally. The water can be both hot or cold, but it’s best recommended that you use hot water since it can also remove the oily residues from the brick. Unless specified by the manufacturer, you should never add detergent to the water.

brickorganicallycontaminatedRemoval of organic raid

If the brick is covered in organic coating, then you should add some disinfectant to the water prior to using it to wash the bricks. Most people add bleach which is highly effective and also recommended. Keep in mind that this is a procedure which you need to repeat multiple times.

Chemical cleaning of the facade

A facade that is covered in thick layers of dirt or cladding clinker bricks is recommended to be washed using special cleaning solutions available on the market. One thing to keep in mind is that most of the times these solutions are going to be corrosive, so they are harmful to people. Because of that, they should be used by strictly following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Prior to making use of these solutions to wash the bricks, it’s best that you test them on a small area. Start with the bottom of the facade and after you work your way up to the wall, use water to flush the dirt away. If you plan on cleaning all other parts of the facade which is made using other materials besides bricks, be sure to protect them.

Rubber band ligation bricks

This is a special type of cleaning method that’s most of the times used when restoring monuments and what makes it special is the fact that it doesn’t use chemicals or water sprayed at high pressure. In fact, this method involves using vegetable powders which are carefully sprayed onto the surface of the bricks in order to dissolve or absorb the dirt and make it easier to remove it. Using this method, it’s very simple to clean very delicate and sensitive structures.

Removing paint from bricks

removingpaintfrombricksWhen it comes to removing paint from the brick, it’s mostly a painstakingly time consuming effort that cannot be completed without destroying the brick’s outer layer. So for example, one way to approach this would be to lay the brick on one side and then use half a brick in order to rub it against its bottom.

But if you want to remove paint from easier and faster, then you can try to sand blast it. Bear in mind though that while this is a very effective method, it will destroy the brick’s surface.

Also you should take lead paint into your consideration, basically any old paint removal process should be proceeded by laboratory testing of a paint sample for lead presence. If such is detected, paint removal should be performed by a licensed contractor only.

There are other methods you can consider for cleaning the bricks and probably one of the most effective ones is to purchase a special type of paste that allows you to remove old paint from walls and then apply it on the brick. However, this is easier said than done, so if you’re looking for a simple way of renovating a brick, then you’d better repaint it.

heavilydamagedbrickReplacement of deteriorated bricks

When a brick is damaged, it’s going to undoubtedly start to gather moisture and when this happens, the brick’s inner structure will turn into a ticking time bomb. It’s not like it’s going to explode, but it will suffer many internal changes that severely impact its durability. Sometimes, people will want to purchase bricks recovered from buildings that were demolished and that is because they are much cheaper.

While this is a good way to save a lot of money, the bricks need to be carefully inspected to ensure they are still solid enough to be used for at least a few decades. To check their quality, use a metal hammer and gently tap one of them. If you hear a clear metallic sound, then that is good news and the brick is still in great shape. If you don’t hear such a sound, then the brick should be disregarded since it’s of poor quality.

missingmortarbetweenbricksRepair of joints in the brick facade

No one will deny that repairing damaged joints is definitely a very tedious process, but you certainly need to consider doing so if you cannot afford any other types of repairs. However, before you go ahead and lay the new joints, you should remove the damaged parts on the old ones. Proceed with cutting the old seams in the middle of their width and then go ahead and remove the damaged parts to a depth of around 2x the joint’s width.

To make sure the repair is carried out properly, make sure that you being considering it from the top of the wall. Don’t apply the new mortar unless you have remove the old dusted and loose mortar properly. You can use a wire brush to do that.

As you can see, restoring a house brick elevation is not as hard as you thought, but you certainly need to follow these steps carefully and be patient. This will take you some time, especially if it’s the first time you’re doing this, but the good news is that at the end of the day, the results will have been worthy of your efforts.

Guidelines for Selection of a Commercial Developer

Selecting Commercial Developer

If you’re a business owner, then one of the first steps you should consider if you want to find a reliable general contractor or a commercial construction company is to think well about your needs in terms of a renovation or new construction project. When you have a plan for what you want to achieve, you’ll be able to shoot straight for success, regardless if you want to build a retail store, a hospital, a restaurant or maybe an office building.

Because of that, you need to communicate very well with your chosen developer and tell him exactly what you need, the purpose of your new construction, the level of safety and quality you want and so forth.

Budget and project outline

Having a budget for your project is mandatory if you want it to be completed on time and with great results. The Arlington National Association has seventy five chapters that represent more than twenty thee thousand construction companies with almost two million employees. These companies range from industry giants to independent (and small) operations that can help you complete your project with the best possible results and in the shortest amount of time as well.

Get more info about the companies in your area using trade groups:

If you visited the website of ABC which stands for Associated Builders and Contractors, you probably noticed that they have a link on their website that you can use to access the state chapters. There you are going to find not only E-mail address, but also telephone numbers and names of staff members that provide info on the contractors in your area.

However, if you wish, you can also consider visiting AGCA and then going to either Member Directory or Find a Chapter in order to be presented with all the profiles and names of the member companies. The good news is that here you’ll be able to find more than thirty thousand construction company members which is more than enough regardless of the type of project you need completed. In total, the AGC has ninety five chapters that consist of members who are service providers, general and specialty contractors. The AGC is also based in Arlington, VA.

If this doesn’t sound like a resource you’d like to use, then don’t worry about it. You can also consider other groups that can help you complete your project, but keep in mind that they are also going to be non-profit CURT.

As a business owner, your ultimate goal is to find a well reputed company that can help you complete your desired project on time and for a great price. So if you’re currently looking for a construction developer, you should also:

  1. Check references of developers or contractors.
  2. Pay close attention to referrals gotten by word of mouth.

As with everything, before you hire somebody, it pays to go online and start doing some research on your own. A company may say that they’re the best on the market and their quality of work and prices are second to none, but unless you personally find that’s true after doing some careful online research, you may not get the best bang for your buck. Other things to keep in mind when looking for contractors include:

  1. Communication and relationship are essential.
  2. A company’s website is a reliable and great source of info since it outlines the past completed and currently completed projects and their specialties as well.
  3. Price shouldn’t be the main factor you consider when looking for a contractor. Keep in mind that in general, you’re going to get what you pay for. 
  4. Since each project has different requirements, a great track record and experience are mandatory. In this regard, it’s best to hire a company that has built hospitals before and knows how to build them on time and without going over your initial budget instead of one that is generally focused on building schools. You should also check the company’s safety record and technical capabilities before you hire them.
  5. Lastly, if you found a developer that you think is great for your project, then you should schedule an interview with him. Don’t be shy and ask them as many questions as you need in order to ensure you have compatibility. A great fit will encourage trust and that is certainly vital for the success of any project.

High-Rise Building Construction

High-Rise Building ConstructionHigh rise buildings are also known as multistory buildings or tower blocks and these are constructions that are generally a few dozen stories tall and require elevators in order to allow people to effectively get from one point of the building to another.

The first ever high-rise buildings were built in the US in the eighteen eighties in select urban areas and given the fact they were a complete success, the price of real estate in those areas increased rapidly. More and more people wanted to live in these buildings and many of them were ready to pay a high price to be able to achieve that.

At the time, high rise buildings were constructed mainly out of glass exterior sheathing supported by steel structural frames. However, by the mid twentieth century, in the majority of countries around the world these types of buildings have become a standard feature of the architectural landscape.

The foundations of such buildings need to support extremely heavy loads and they generally consist of caissons, piles and concrete piers which are sunk into the ground. The most recommended base though is that of solid rock, but thanks to modern technology, there are now ways to distribute weight evenly on soft ground as well.

When designing high rise buildings, the most important thing is to ensure they withstand the lateral forces caused by earthquakes and strong winds. To improve lateral rigidity, shear walls or cross bracing can be used effectively. However, there are also even more stable frames used when constructing such buildings that use a bundled tube system or closely spaced columns at the perimeter of the building.

A high rise building is also enclosed by curtain walls which are basically sheets of metal, stone, masonry or glass that bear no loads and are affixed to the frame of the building using a series of horizontal and vertical members. These members are also known as muntins or mullions.

The main way of transport in high rise buildings are elevators which function by using electric motors. These motors lower or raise the cab in a shaft by using strong wire ropes which are generally made of steel. Elevator cabs also feature a flexible electric hose which is connected to them in order to provide power required for signal transmission, door operation and lighting.

Since multistory buildings are very high, they also need to have special life-safety systems in place. This means fire prevention standards need to be very strict and provisions for adequate means of egress in case of power failure or worse, fire, need to be provided (more at While these were initially built for commercial purposes, the multistory buildings nowadays have a lot more uses than that, so the combination of hotel, retail, residential, but also office space is not uncommon at all.

What are some of the main responsibilities of a general contractor?

main responsibilities of a general contractorWhen it comes to general contractors, they’re the ones in charge with overseeing everything happening at the construction site. Regardless if we’re talking about a governmental, commercial or residential project, general contractors need to oversee everything that pertains to the construction.

However, besides that, were you ever curious about what else they’re doing on the construction site?

If you didn’t, then don’t worry about it. In the list below we’re going to take a closer look at this and try to understand what his typical responsibilities involve.

Consults with the architect

Before any work can start on any project, the architect together with the general contractor will need to carefully review the plans together. If there are any problems with them, both of them are going to try and find a reliable solution.

Manages labors and subcontractors

In order for everyone at the work site to do their job properly, they need to be managed by the general subcontractor. So what he does is make sure that labors and tasks are properly carried out by the subcontractors according to the project plan. On top of that, the general subcontractor also ensures everyone works as efficient as possible and doesn’t slack off.

Collects the best bids for the project

Since he has a large network of reliable subcontractors, general contractors can easily gather the best possible bids for the project at hand. By evaluating them properly, he’ll be able to select not only the best subcontractor company for the job, but also the one that can get the job done for the lowest price.

Arranges for construction building permits

Last but not least, a general contractor will make arrangements for the required building permits to be granted on time. Since he has been in the business for many years, he knows exactly what to do in order to obtain the permits without any delays so the project’s completion date is not offset.