7 Questions to Ask Your Contractor Before Hiring

Time is money. Finding a quality contractor as quickly as possible can increase profits and help avoid wastes. Asking the right questions can make all the difference between profit and failure. When interviewing a potential contractor, consider the following questions in your evaluation process:

1. How long have you been in business?

Asking for background is essential for finding a quality contractor. The contractor will need to state how long they have been in business for themselves, if they have had partners in the past, and other companies they may have worked for before opening their own business. If there are any negative points such as a partner dispute or bankruptcy, now is the time to find out the real story.

2. Have you ever operated under another name, been sued, or been forced off a job?

Remember court records are open to the public. Don’t be afraid to consult a General Council to look up any suspected problems with a prospective contractor.

3. Is your license up to date?

Though many tradesmen do quality work ‘on the side’, having a licensed contractor is a must. Asking for a copy of the license is acceptable and prudent before considering the contractor or any subcontractors on the job. The license should include all states the contractor does business.

4. Are you insured?

Any real business person will understand that insurance is a must. The bare minimum is General Liability Insurance to protect against any disastrous event. A contractor working on large remodels and contracted ‘fix and flips’ should have a minimum $500,000 policy. Depending upon the size of the project, additional coverage may be needed. They should carry Workers Compensation Insurance to protect the subcontractors and laborers on the job. Making sure the job site and all workers are protected is the only way to have a profitable outcome.

5. What is your standard warranty?

Never accept verbal warranty agreements. Find out specific coverages and exclusions prior to awarding the project. A good standard for a General Contractor is to revisit the project in six months and again in one year (if no calls have been made for repairs) just to make sure everything is stable and working properly. Some higher quality General Contractors will continue to cover and recheck the property up to two years.

6. What about permits and inspections?

The General Contractor’s job is to make sure all permits are in order and all work is up to codes for the area. The investor should never be responsible for obtaining permits or dealing with building inspectors. If there are any problems the General Contractor should notify the investor, and deal with the problem accordingly.

7. How many ongoing projects do you have? What is the time frame for the completion of those projects?

Hiring a General Contractor who has ‘spread himself too thin’ can be devastating for all the projects if something unforeseen occurs. If other projects are near to completion, hiring the GC can be considered. If not, finding a GC that can devote enough attention to the project to keep it moving forward in a timely fashion, keeping the working areas clean and safe, making sure all materials and labor is used for this contracted project, and ability to manage all day to day operations is a minimum requirement.