Starting a construction project of any size can be stressful. To alleviate some of this stress, it's important to get to know your contractor. Here are the top 10 questions you should ask your contractor before signing the deal.
1) Are you insured?
Contractor insurance not only protects the contractor, but it also protects you, the home owner. Should something go wrong during construction, the last thing you want is for you or your insurance company to be on the hook.
2) Do you employ sub-trades?
First, you have the right to know who will have access to your home during construction. Secondly, you have the right to know if the sub-trades working on your project have the appropriate licenses.
3) Are your trades licensed?
A lot of people say they can wire a stove or relocate plumbing, but without an appropriate license, they may not be the best person for the job. Licensed professionals are highly skilled and trained to take on the specific task and can legally be held accountable for any errors.
4) What kind of warranty do you provide?
A good contractor will proudly stand by their work and as such would be willing to guarantee it in writing, but watch out for guarantees that seem too good to be true - they likely are. Always read the fine print.
5) Does this work require a permit?
Permits can be complicated - they can increase costs and cause delays in the project. However, by getting the necessary permits for your project, you will have peace of mind knowing that the project will be completed properly and legally. Illegal construction can result in work-stoppages, fines, and even the homeowner being financially responsible for returning the home to its original state.
6) How will we communicate?
Open lines of communication are key to getting the job done on time and on budget. It also ensures that you get exactly what you are expecting from your contractor. A communication schedule should be agreed upon from the start. This should include daily updates via phone or email and a weekly walk through.
7) How can you be reached after hours?
Hopefully, you'll never need it, but it is a good idea to have a 24hr contact should an emergency arise. Delayed reaction to a serious emergency can result in thousands of dollars worth of damage.
8) How do you handle changes?
Changes happen, and they can hold up a project and increase costs. All change requests should be accompanied by a written agreement and signed by both parties. A well-written contract will have a clause covering change orders.
9) Can I have that in writing?
It is in your best interest to work with a contractor who will provide a written contract. The contract protects both you and the contractor and provides specific details pertaining to the project. Read the contract, do not be afraid to ask questions, and never sign until you are completely satisfied.
10) Can you provide references?
Do not skip this step! Protect yourself by asking past clients about their experience with the contractor. Make sure you are given no less then 3 references from projects completed in the past 6 months. You don't have to follow up with all of them, but just knowing the information is available can be reassuring.
Be informed and don’t be afraid to ask questions. The most important thing is that you find a contractor that you feel comfortable with.
Marko Furlani is the owner and President of Urbanest Construction.