Questions to Ask Your Contractors
What are the Contractor's Qualifications?
- How long has the Contractor been in business or in the construction industry?
- This one is misleading because the company could be new, but the contractor could have 10 years of experience, so be sure to find out how much construction experience the contractor has in the industry.
- What is the Contractor's average sized project?
- It's important to find out the scale & scope of work for the Contractor's typical project. Does the contractor typically only work on small bathroom remodels or are they qualified to manage a full rehab project?
- What trades does the Contractor typically self-perform? What trades does the Contractor typically subcontract?
- Will the Contractor be self-performing the work or hiring other contractors to perform the work? It's important to understand who will be performing the work on your project and making sure that the subcontractors your contractor are utilizing are qualified, licensed & insured as well.
Does the Contractor have a Portfolio or References?
Ask your Contractor if they can provide a portfolio of past projects that highlights the Contractor's quality and craftsmanship. Your Contractor should be able to provide marketing materials or a link to their website where you can see photos of their completed projects.
Although your Contractor may have an impressive portfolio, it's important to also ask your contractor for a list of at least 3 references that you can call and ask for feedback. Ask your Contractor for references from past clients, other real estate investors, agents, inspectors or subcontractors.
Ask the references about their experience working with the Contractor:
- How was the working relationship?
- Did the Contractor show up to the site everyday?
- Did the Contractor complete the work on-schedule?
- Did the Contractor maintain a clean & safe jobsite?
- Were there any unreasonable change orders?
- Were there any disagreements?
Is the Contractor Licensed and Insured?
For certain trades and scopes of work (generally Structural, Plumbing, HVAC, Electrical) you will need to hire a Licensed Contractor to perform the work. In some areas, your General Contractor and Subcontractors will need to be licensed in order to pull permits for the project. Check your local building department to determine which Contractors need to be licensed on your projects.
Always make sure your General Contractor or Subcontractors working on your project have their own General Contractor Liability insurance. The insurance should cover:
- Bodily injury to you, your family or visitor's of the property.
- Any accidental damage to your property.
- Workman's compensation for injuries to the contractor's or subcontractors employees.
Ask your Contractors to provide a 'Certificate of Insurance' which will provide proof that the contractor is currently insured and provide information on the type of insurance coverage and the insurance limits. This is a standard document & request that contractor's are asked, so if you get push back that should be a red flag!
What's the Contractor's availability?
- What other jobs is the Contractor currently working on that could affect your project?
- Ask your Contractor what other projects they currently have going or planned during your project to understand how your project will be prioritized.
- How many employees does the Contractor have? Do they have enough manpower to staff your project?
- If your Contractor does have multiple projects going at once, find out how many employees they have and ask if they have enough manpower to staff your project. You should generally have at least 1 or 2 workers on-site everyday in order to keep your projects on-schedule. (No lost days!)
- When can the Contractor start construction and how long will Construction take?
- Find out when the Contractor can start the project and discuss the time frame the contractor estimates it will take to complete the project.
How does the Contractor handle unforeseen issues or change orders?
- What is the Change Order process?
- How are Change Orders communicated and agreed upon?
- How are Change Orders priced?
You and your contractor should agree upon a Change Order process upfront, so when an unforeseen issue inevitably arises, you will both be on the same page.
Has the Contractor ever had legal issues?
- Does the Contractor have any legal judgements, lawsuits, or arbitration proceedings pending or in the past?
- Has the Contractor filed a Lien on a property?
Your Contractor's legal history can be good indication of bad business practices or trouble with past clients. With that said, disagreements arise in construction so it's important to give the Contractor a chance to explain their situation.
Ultimately, you want to work with reasonable Contractor's that can manage conflict reasonably without involving lawyers or putting liens on your property!
Does the Contractor carry a warranty on the work?
Generally, it's reasonable to expect tradesman to warranty their work for 1 year after project completion.