It can be stressful to pick a contractor for your next project. You hear so many horror stories of people being taken advantage of or having subpar construction, and the whole ordeal can quickly become overwhelming. We have compiled a list of things to ask and check for when picking your next contractor to make sure that your project is completed how you want it.
1) Seek word-of-mouth suggestions.
Honest reviews from friends and neighbors are invaluable in finding credible contractors to work with. They won’t embellish their experience for the contractor’s sake because they want to make sure that you’re taken care of.
2) Ask for credentials.
The sad reality is that there are some “contractors” out there who lie about having credentials in order to get a job that they aren’t actually qualified for. When interviewing a contractor, you should check the Better Business Bureau licensing resource page to double check their license number. You also need to make sure that the contractor has worker’s comp and liability insurance to cover any potential accidents that could happen during the process.
3) Ask about management style.
When it comes to a contractor’s management style, there is no right or wrong style to look for. It fully depends on what you are looking for. These questions should cover concerns like whether or not the contractor will perform background checks on the crews and will the contractor personally oversee every process within the project.
4) Do they have a system or process for projects like this?
This is a good question to be able to gauge how organized the contractor operates. This is not only a good way to see how the contractor communicates, but it should also give you a detailed run down of the specifics of the project you’re asking for. It can also give you some insight on how experienced they are with the specific kind of project you are trying to complete. The more experienced, the better!
5) Who will be responsible for the necessary permits?
The last thing you want is a delay in construction because you never determined who was responsible for the paperwork. It’s important to discuss who is going to obtain the necessary permits. If the contractor puts the responsibility of the permits on you, be sure to clarify what permits will be necessary and how to obtain them if you are unsure!
6) What hours will they be working on your project specifically?
The hours dedicated to your project is important when deciding on a completion date. For example, if there are specific times that you don’t want the contractor to be working on the project, that can extend the time needed. On the other hand, it is unrealistic to assume that the contract will be working around the clock on your project. Besides having a family of their own to tend to, the contractor may have other projects going on at the same time. However, emergencies tend to arise during construction projects. It’s important to establish a way to communicate outside of project hours for when those emergencies occur.
7) Ask to see a portfolio of past projects and clients.
Every contractor is going to do things a little differently, which is why it’s important to pick one that fits right with the job. A good way to learn more about a contractor’s work is to look at their portfolio. (Look out for a contractor who is hesitant to give you their portfolio!) Look closely at projects that are similar to the one you are doing for a better understanding of how yours will turn out. You can also ask the contractor for a list of previous clients to contact about their experience, but it’s a red flag if they don’t want to put you in contact with previous clients!
8) How often (and when) can they meet for updates?
As mentioned in Number 6, your project might not take up the entirety of your contractor’s time. You also probably can’t, or don’t want to, be present for every part of the job. After all, you’re hiring a contractor for a reason! Nonetheless, you need to be kept up to date with where y’all are in the process and how everything is running. It’s important to discuss availability for meetings before deciding on your contractor to make sure that the meetings will be able to happen as frequently, or infrequently as you would like.
9) What is the schedule for completion?
This is a big one, especially if the project is something as large as new construction or a complete remodel. You need to be able to plan for when construction is finished. The contractor should be organized and experienced enough to be able to give you a fairly accurate estimate on a completion date. Some contractors may be able to complete the job faster than others so be aware of what that may entail as well.
10) How involved will they be in the construction?
When choosing a contractor, it is important to be aware of how often the contractor will physically be on the job site. If the contractor is there too often, it can cause a liability for mistakes or accidents. However, there are some parts of the process that it isn’t necessary for the general contractor to be present. Overall, the time you want your contractor to spend on site is up to you and should be taken into account during your search.
11) What are the lien laws in your area?
Lien laws can come into play where a contractor hasn’t paid for the materials used for a project and the debt falls to you. Every state has different lien laws, so it’s important to be aware of these and make sure that your contractor is also aware of them before you hire anyone.
It is recommended to do a brief phone interview with your suggested contractors before picking a couple to meet in person for estimates and bids. Always make sure that pricing, timelines, and expectations are written out in your contract; no contractor contract can be too detailed!