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August 22, 2023

10 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a General Contractor

Hiring the right general contractor will make all the difference to the success of your project. The key is knowing which contractor to hire. These are the top ten questions before hiring a general contractor, giving you peace of mind and a guaranteed positive end result.

1. Do you have a Contractor’s License, insurance, qualifications, or accreditations?

This may be the single most important question to ask prospective contractors for your project. Without the correct license or insurance, you will be exposed to serious financial risk, including liability for safety and covering costs for any accidents that occur on your site. 

It is smart to choose a contractor that has more than the bare minimum regarding insurance and licenses. Industry-specific qualifications and accreditations will highlight the best contractor to go with.

2. Would you please itemize your bid?

Many contractors would prefer to give you a single bottom-line price for the whole project. Unfortunately, this puts you at a disadvantage in knowing the charges behind each aspect of the job and hinders your ability to compare other contractor bids. 

With an itemized bid, you can see the cost for all elements of the job. You will know that contractors willing to do this are the most transparent.

3. Is this bid an estimate or a fixed price?

In relation to the above question, it’s worth asking the contractor whether the price they give is an estimate or if it is fixed. An estimate is the minimum expectation and gives no guarantee of the real price when the project is finished. The last thing you need is to find out halfway through the project that more vital materials are needed: your only choice will be to pay more money just to make sure the project can be completed. 

If a contractor says they can’t offer a fixed price because the site has too many unknowns, try to eliminate the unknowns. For example, have a third-party inspector help eliminate any uncertainties through a consultation.

4. Can you provide a list of past client referrals?

Asking for past client referrals will gain you two pieces of knowledge. You will learn more about the contractor’s experience on similar projects, and you can also find out how long they’ve been in business. 

If you’re able to speak to previous clients, you can really start to understand the contractor from others who have worked with them.

5. What is the timescale for this project and estimated completion time?

This is an important question to ask a prospective contractor when your project is time-dependent. A business that needs to be up and running on time cannot afford expensive delays. 

This question will help to set expectations on both your end and the contractor's end.

6. Can you provide a warranty or guarantee of work?

It’s critical that the work your contractor is undertaking comes with some form of guarantee. Whether it is on services or materials (preferably both), ensure that you can get something more than a verbal confirmation. 

This question will make sure that your investment is protected.

7. Will you take steps to protect and clean my property and work site?

A lot of responsibility falls on the contractor to avoid damaging things around your property. From areas adjacent to the work site to furniture and floors around the house, ask the contractor what steps they will take to protect your property. 

Similarly, it is smart to ask specific questions about the expected cleanliness of the property and work site after the project is completed. Contractors may have different ideas about what constitutes clean!

8. I’d like to meet the job foreman – can you take me to a project they’re running?

This question will be sure to gain you a lot of information on the top contractors you are considering. Asking to meet the foreman on the job incentivizes your contractor to assign you one of the better crews – you are more likely to hire that contractor if you see their best team in action! 

Foremen will be the front-line workers on your project, while the general contractor may spend more time bidding on new work and managing all the various jobs they have. Spend some extra time getting to know the foreman and make sure you feel comfortable with them taking charge.

9. How do you resolve disagreements?

Asking your contractor this question may be one of the most insightful. It will show you a lot about how they respond to the question – whether they take responsibility or put the blame on the previous customer. It will also allow you to ask about certain examples if you’ve found poor reviews on a trade website.

10. Will you subcontract any of the work out to other suppliers?

Most general contractors have trusted companies or tradespeople that they work with. If the plan is to contract out some or all the work, ask how the quality of the work can be guaranteed, and do some research into the subcontractor too.

This extends to warranty, insurance, and, indeed, all the questions posed above.

Hire the Best

If you are looking right now to hire a general contractor for your upcoming project, there is no better place to start than the experts at Might Hand Construction. Contact our team of professionals today to get started.

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