Finding a great general contractor is like finding a needle in a haystack, in a labyrinth, in the middle of a snowstorm. In short, it’s incredibly difficult to find just the right one that you feel comfortable with, for the right price. But, when you do find the perfect fit, it’s crucial to ask them the correct questions to get the best out of your home improvement project.
The truth is, once you decide to go with a particular contracting company, they will in essence become a part of your life for the duration of your project, so communication is key. They could possibly be in and out of your home on a daily basis, so, an open dialogue is essential. Not only so that you can guarantee that your project will go according to plan, but so that you are in the know about every aspect including: their schedule, the materials being used, and other projects they are working on concurrently. In this open dialogue, it’s inevitable that your contractor will ask you a litany of questions about your budget, personal opinion, and how you operate within your home. While this is all a part of the process, it’s important to arm yourself with quandaries from the start. This will make certain that your build will go smoothly from the jump. Listed below are 9 essential questions you need to be asking your general contractor before you decide to secure the deal.
- Can you provide me with a detailed outline of your construction process?
It’s important for you as a customer to always have every bit of information you can about your project. This question is something general contractors get all the time, so there is no need to be nervous to ask about schedule. Many times, the company you have decided to work with will give you a time estimate for your project, but it’s important to ask for specifics. It seems unavoidable that hang ups will happen. As the old adage goes “the course of true love (construction projects) never did run smooth.” However, with a detailed timeline of their plans, you should be able to expect the unexpected in terms of delays. With this knowledge you can keep your contractor in check and be able to anticipate where they are at with your remodel at any point in the process.
- Do you deal with permitting and inspections?
Let’s face it, permitting can be an arduous and extensive process that could take quite some time to complete. This being said, it makes it much simpler if your general contractor can deal with it. At Built to Perfection, we handle all permitting and inspection scheduling, so that you don’t have to worry about it. I mean, who wants to do more paperwork than they have to?
- What does the average work day look like?
Along with the detailed summary of their timeline, it’s fairly important to know what to expect on a daily basis. By asking this question, you will be able to be prepared for whatever the day at hand throws at you. This will also allow you to work around what your contractor is doing on your property. For example, if you know that around 5pm they begin to pack their things, you can adjust your schedule to make sure there’s no traffic going in and out of areas where they may be hauling refuse from the day. Keeping you and your home safe and clean should be top priority for most teams, but this added knowledge will allow you to be prepared.
- What steps will be taken to protect my property?
Many contractors will guarantee no damage done to your property from the beginning, but this doesn’t always hold true. At Built to Perfection, we prep the space extensively with floor and wall coverings, move any valuable or fragile objects, and advise our subcontractors to be incredibly careful. It’s essential for you to ask what your contractor will do in the event of an accident. Hopefully, nothing ever happens, but it’s always a comfort to know that you will be covered. Most companies, Built to Perfection included, will pay for any damages done to your property during the process. Although, this isn’t always the case, so it’s crucial that you ask.
- How do you handle disagreements with your clients?
It’s probably no surprise to anyone that clients can get frustrated with their general contractor, and vice versa, for a multitude of reasons. So it’s paramount that you ask how each business deals with disagreements. This goes back to that open dialogue between you and the company you have decided to work with. At Built to Perfection, one of our project managers will assist you every step of the way, whether it be with a disagreement surrounding a certain worker or the way something was done. Your project manager will assist in clearing up any miscommunications or misunderstandings in a calm, concise, and timely manner.
- Do you anticipate any challenges during my project?
This question is one to always keep in your back pocket when looking for a general contractor. Most times, they will say they don’t see any problems they would have, even if the build is looking to be somewhat difficult. This query will weed out the contractors who want to seem good at their jobs from the ones who want to have a candid and personal relationship with you. And there is nothing more important than being able to have an open and honest line of communication with your general contractor.
- How and when would you like to be paid?
Talking about money sucks, but you need to do it. Often contractors will want a deposit, some money in the middle, and then money once the project is complete. However, you never want these payments to come as a surprise. From the beginning you can ask your general contractor to provide you with a detailed breakdown of when they need funds and how they would like to be paid, via card or check. With this question, you can avoid all sorts of monetary surprises.
- What is your preferred method of contact and communication?
Getting in touch with your general contractor or project manager shouldn’t be difficult, but sometimes they can be hard to reach. This question will give you the best possible answer for how to keep in contact. Some companies will have you call an office, which will have to transfer you to an agent, and then ultimately to your project manager. At BTP we pride ourselves on being available and able to talk to our clients at their convenience. Our project managers will be more than willing to speak with you directly, so that you can cut out the middle man, and get to chatting quicker.
- What Resources will your team require when on site?
It’s your home and should be treated as such, but workers will need a space to do some things. If you want to know if there will be Porta Potties, forklifts, garage cans, or anything under that umbrella, this question is going to be your best friend. Oftentimes, the project manager will let you know what resources will be needed for the project, and will set them out without you having to do any additional work. But asking this ensures that you know what’s going on in your space and where it’s all going. And this knowledge is power.
Now that you’ve got some questions in your back pocket, you’re more than equipped to find your next general contractor. But remember, it’s all about your comfortability. So, do research, ask questions, do some shopping, and remember the power to begin making your home a better place, begins with you.
If you have any additional questions, feel free to call us at (888) 955-0535, visit our website and enter in your info, or message us on any platform you can find us on!
Written & Edited by Sam Hulsizer at Built to Perfection, Inc.