Questions You Should Ask Your Contractor
It’s a question we often get—
—in response to a critical, and sometimes stressful, time in the home-building process. What questions to ask contractors before hiring? Building a home is a big investment, and after years of designing them, Shea and the design team have learned that it can be hard to find good information about how to navigate the process, especially when it comes to finding the right people for the job. And especially when you don’t design and build homes for a living.
We’ve been lucky to work with a lot of great general contractors on our projects throughout the years, and if you’ve seen our Netflix show, Dream Home Makeover, you might remember us collaborating with the team at Killowen Construction. After receiving quite a few questions about finding the right team, we decided to ask our general contractor, Tyler Farell, owner of Killowen Construction, what he would ask before signing a build contract. Straight from the source, here’s what to ask a contractor before hiring.
No. 01 | Licensed and Insured
Question to ask your general contractor: It’s essential to know if your general contractor is licensed and insured before you get started. Surprisingly, there are a lot of contractors that are not licensed and insured. Although hiring an unlicensed and uninsured contractor might save you money upfront, if something in the project goes wrong and the contractor is not licensed and insured, any damage or misstep is the homeowner’s responsibility.
With an investment as significant as your home, it’s imperative to have as much information as you can about your contractor’s qualifications.
No. 02 | Project Count
Question to ask your general contractor: While there is not necessarily a right or wrong answer to this one, it’s nice to know how many projects your contractor will be working on in unison with yours. If they are working on a lot, it’s important that they have a large enough team to support those projects. Otherwise, your home is more likely to be put on the backburner.
No. 03 | Contractor’s Role
Question to ask your general contractor: While every contractor and builder operate differently, asking your general contractor what their role is in the project will give you more insight into how you will interact with them during the length of your project. Whether they are in the day-to-day tasks or focusing on budgeting, scheduling, and training, the most important thing is that there is enough organization for the project to run smoothly.
No. 04 | Daily Site Management
Question to ask your general contractor: If your general contractor is not on-site, make sure to ask what the daily site management looks like while he/she is away. Typically, when someone manages the sub-contractors on the job, the project timeline is more likely to stay on schedule.
No. 05 | Referrals
Question to ask your general contractor: Asking for client referrals from your general contractor will help give you a good idea of how they have worked on past projects and how they work with their clients. However, if you can talk to their vendors and sub-contractors, you’ll be able to get an even clearer picture of their working style. Plus, it’s nice to be familiar with who else you’ll be working with.
No. 06 | Timeline and Budget
Question to ask your general contractor: According to Tyler, if your contractor is telling you something that sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If your contractor has worked on a home like yours before, chances are they have a good idea of their budget and timeline per square foot. While timeline and budget are subject to change with finish choices, if you can establish an estimate with your team up front, you should be in control of how much you add from there.
No. 07 | Client Communication
Question to ask your general contractor: This question can be more experimental, but a same-day response from a general contractor, even if they don’t have the answer yet, is a good sign that they are on top of things. Setting an expectation upfront of how you expect to communicate with your contractor is a great way to start the relationship off right. After all, you will be working together for quite some time.