October 05, 2022
The Most Important Questions to Ask Before Hiring a General Contractor
Large home renovation projects will likely require the help of a general contractor. General contractors coordinate and oversee a variety of specialists and other contractors in order to complete your desired project correctly. If there are multiple stages and specialized tasks involved in your project, you will likely need to hire a general contractor. Projects like kitchen renovations, finishing a basement, and bathroom remodeling are common reasons to hire a general contractor.
Because the general contractor will be responsible for finding and coordinating the other professionals who will be working on your home, it is especially important to ensure that the general contractor is a good fit for your project and your preferences. To find out if you should move forward with hiring a particular contractor, ask the following six questions.
1. How involved will you be in the planning process?
Every home improvement project is different. In some cases, you’ll have a clear vision in your mind of exactly what you want the end result to look like and the steps it will take to get there. However, in other situations, you may need professionals in the construction industry to weigh in on the possibilities and the plausible options for a particular space. In either case, there is an ideal level of involvement you’ll need from a general contractor in the planning process. Talk with the candidates you’re deciding between about how much support you’d prefer during the planning process. Contractors are generally responsible for tasks like applying for permits, which factors into the planning and the timeline before demo and construction begins.
2. What happens if supply prices shift mid-project?
Especially because supply chain issues have hit the construction industry hard in the last few years, it’s important to understand up front what will happen if supply prices change between the planning phase of your project and the completion. Some general contractors may purchase all materials early in order to mitigate this risk, however this requires a level of up-front capital and a very specific knowledge of how much of each material will be required for the project. Others build this risk into their pricing structure to leave room for cost increases without any unexpected price hikes for the customer.
In some cases, the general contractor may let you know that your costs will rise if materials prices do. In these situations, it’s up to you to decide whether to take that risk and whether the worst case scenario of higher materials costs can still work with your budget. Either way, the important thing is that you know in advance, and thus can more easily plan around the possible financial implications of the project.
3. How does the timeline work?
Set expectations with the general contractor up front about how long each step of the project will take. It can become very frustrating to assume the renovation of your primary bathroom will take a few days, only to have people working in your bathroom and bedroom for weeks. Understanding the timeline ahead of time will help you choose between general contractors and ensure there are no unpleasant surprises.
For larger projects, specify the milestones and check-ins that will take place. For example, if you’re hiring a general contractor to finish your basement, what does the timeline look like in terms of when electric, plumbing, drywall, and flooring will be completed? When will you be able to do a walkthrough to ensure that everything is coming along correctly? Having this conversation before you enter into a contract can help set realistic expectations and also boost accountability.
4. How will the project be supervised?
Asking how the project will be supervised will help you gain insight into the organization practices and accountability measures that the general contractor utilizes. Do they come to the site to supervise every day? Every few days? Once a week? Or, do they check in verbally with their subcontractors and never step foot back in the job site? Understanding how hands-on a general contractor is can help you understand if their work style matches your needs. Regardless of their methods, you need to know there will be accountability across specialists.
5. What kind of warranties do you offer?
Before hiring a general contractor, find out if they offer warranties on their work and their products. If something doesn’t come out as high quality as you expected, or something stops working in the first few months after the project’s completion, are they committed to fixing it? This question can help you decide between various contractors by showing you whether the work and appliances you’re paying for will be protected even after the job is complete.
6. Why should I choose you?
If you’re feeling hopeful about a general contractor after asking the first five questions, ask them, why should I choose you? This question will give the general contractor the opportunity to highlight what sets them apart from others, what makes them proud of their work, and why they care about the homes they’re involved with. The passion with which the contractors answer this question may just be the deciding factor!
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At DeLeers Construction, we are dedicated to creating the home you’ve always dreamed of. Get in touch today for help on your home renovation project.