7 Questions to Ask Potential Contractors BEFORE you Start Construction

You’ve decided to do some remodeling, or maybe you are planning a huge construction project and building a house from the ground up. Whether you have chosen a small construction project or a big one, choosing the right company to do the work is the difference between the thrill of a new space or a complete nightmare. Before starting any construction, there are some questions that you should be asking the prospective contractor. 
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1. What Insurances do you carry?

Responsible contractors will carry the proper insurance for his business. Builders should have a current certificate of insurance. A certificate will list the type of insurance that he carries as well as the limits of liability, the name of the insurance company, policy number and what broker he is using. Occasionally certificates could show coverages that have been recently canceled. A call to the broker to make sure coverage is still in effect is advisable. For a contracting company, the certificate should show the following types of insurance: 

  • General Liability insurance. General liability insurance covers the business for costs resulting from damages or injury to third parties as a result of the contractor’s negligence. This protects you from getting sued by outside parties. It also offers you protection if the contractor should cause damage to your property while he working on the project. Included in the general liability insurance is a coverage called Completed Operations. This part of the policy covers the contractor if there is bodily injury or property damage resulting from his work after he completes the job. 
  • The certificate of insurance should also show that the contractor carries Worker’s Compensation Insurance. He may have a second certificate showing this coverage. An explanation of this insurance follows. 
  • Workmans Compensation Insurance:  Most states require employers to carry Workers’ compensation insurance. While Worker’s Compensation insurance is primarily designed to protect employees, it will also benefit the homeowner. When a worker gets hurt on the job, he will file a claim under his employer’s Worker’s Compensation insurance. As long as the worker is considered an employee of the business, and is eligible to make a claim against the workers’ compensation policy, he cannot file a lawsuit against you when he suffers an on-the-job accident.

2. Do you have the proper business licenses?

Check to see if the business has all the appropriate licenses for the types of construction being completed. Not all states require licenses. You can find out if your state requires licenses by visiting the website Construction / Contractor Quotes. If your state does require a license, make sure that is appropriate for the type of job that is being done. A plumber’s license doesn’t mean much if you are having electrical work done.

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3. Do you have references?

A builder should be able to supply you with work references. The references can come in the form of a letter or a list of references that you can contact. Ask the references about the type and quality of work he did, was the job done in a timely manner, did he stay within budget, were the crew or sub contractors easy to deal with, would you hire him again? 

4. What is the deposit requirement?

If a deposit is required be sure to clarify how much is due and by what date or what stage of the project. Be wary if the contractor wants full payment up front and ask “Do other contractors near me ask for payment up front?”. 

5. Do you have set sub contractors / vendors?

A contractor should have a long term relationship with sub contractors and vendors they use. Working with the same people on a continuing basis allows the contractor to judge their performance. The contractor has already checked on the sub contractors insurance and licenses. He already knows that his vendors are dependable. 

6. How many years in the construction business?

When a contractor has been in business for many years it is a good sign that they have valued their work ethic, their reputation and the satisfaction of their clients. The contracting business is not an easy one and the fact that they have been in business for many years indicates financial stability. Consider how long other contractors near me have been in business. 

7. Do you work with specific architects and designers? 

It is advantageous to work with specific designers and architects. When businessmen work with the same designers and architects, they develop strong communication skills. This is to your benefit because they will work together to achieve your satisfaction.

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This all may seem a bit overwhelming, but knowing that the job goes smoothly will be worth the extra time.
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