10 Questions to Ask When Hiring a Construction Contractor

Written by Jeff

February 24, 2024

Home Addition in Wichita, KS

Introduction

Selecting and hiring the right construction contractor for your home improvement or construction project may be one of the most important decisions you make. Construction projects require a significant investment of time and money and you need to ensure the contractor you choose is properly equipped to handle your project successfully from start to finish. Before hiring any contractor, it is crucial that you ask them the right questions and do your research. The more information you have upfront, the better prepared you will be to make an informed decision and avoid issues down the road.

Carefully evaluating potential contractors based on key factors can give you valuable insight into their experience, expertise, workmanship, business practices, and ability to meet your expectations. Asking the right questions can help surface any red flags and prevent misunderstandings regarding the project scope, timeline, or budget. By taking the time to thoroughly vet each contractor under consideration, you can protect your investment and have greater confidence in achieving the end result you envisioned. The purpose of this article is to highlight ten of the most important questions to ask when interviewing and selecting a construction contractor for your next home building or remodeling project.

Experience

When hiring a construction contractor, one of the most important things to consider is their experience in the industry. You’ll want to find out:

  • How long have they been in business? Look for contractors that have been operating for at least 5-10 years. This shows they have a proven track record and have been able to establish themselves in the industry.

  • What types of projects have they completed? Make sure they have extensive experience with projects similar to yours. If you’re building a residential home, you don’t want a contractor who mainly does commercial builds.

  • How many projects have they completed? More experience is better, so look for contractors who have completed dozens if not hundreds of projects.

  • Can they provide references from past clients? Reputable contractors should be able to provide references to vouch for their quality work. Speaking with previous clients can give you insight into their experience.

  • Do they specialize in your type of project? Specialized experience is preferable over general contractors who take on all kinds of work.

  • Are they licensed, insured and bonded? All legitimate contractors should have proper licensing and insurance to protect you from liability. Make sure to verify.

The contractor’s experience level is crucial because it demonstrates their ability to successfully complete your project. Be wary of brand new contractors with little proven experience. Construction projects require skills developed over years of work, so choose someone with an established presence in the industry.

Reputation

When hiring a construction contractor, it’s important to research their reputation. Do they have positive reviews and references you can check? Here are some things to look into:

  • Online reviews – Search for the company on Google, Yelp, Angie’s List, and other review sites. Read through the reviews carefully, noting trends and patterns. Look for contractors with a majority of 4-5 star reviews.

  • References – Ask the contractor for a list of references from past clients. Call the references and ask how satisfied they were with the company’s work and professionalism. Did the contractor finish on time and within budget? How did they handle problems if they arose?

  • Awards and certifications – Look for companies recognized with awards for quality work or customer satisfaction. Contractors may also have certifications like Lead-Safe or NARI credentials showing they meet industry standards.

  • Better Business Bureau – Check the contractor’s BBB profile for any complaints and how they were resolved. Look for contractors rated A or higher.

  • Social media – Does the company have an active Facebook page or Instagram account with positive feedback and engagement? This can give you a good feel for their reputation.

Getting insight into a construction contractor’s reputation will help ensure you choose someone reliable who does quality work and treats customers well. Taking the time to research will give you confidence in your hiring decision.

Insurance

When hiring a construction contractor, it’s absolutely essential that they carry both general liability insurance and workers’ compensation insurance. You want to protect yourself from any potential liability if a worker gets injured on your property or if the contractor damages your home.

  • General liability insurance covers any bodily injury or property damage that occurs because of the contractor’s work. Make sure they have at least $1 million in coverage, but more is better for larger projects.

  • Workers’ compensation insurance covers medical bills and lost wages if a worker is injured on the job. This protects you from any claims made against you by injured employees. Workers’ comp is required by law in most states.

During your initial consultation, don’t be afraid to ask for proof of insurance. Reputable contractors will readily provide you with certificates of insurance for both policies. Verify that they name you as “additional insured” on the general liability policy. This gives you extra protection if you are sued.

Checking insurance coverage is a critical step in protecting yourself during a construction project. Don’t hire any contractor that can’t provide valid proof they carry both general liability and workers’ comp policies.

Licensing

One of the most important things to verify is whether the contractor is properly licensed for your state and city. Every state has its own licensing requirements for general contractors. Make sure to ask the contractor for their license number and verify it on your state licensing board’s website.

There are a few key things to look out for:

  • Verify the license is current and active. Contractors with expired licenses are a major red flag.

  • Confirm they are licensed for the type of work you need done. Some licenses are limited to certain project types like electrical, plumbing, or residential remodels.

  • Check if there are any complaints, disciplinary actions, or unresolved violations against the license. This is a sign of potential problems down the road.

  • For large complex projects, only consider a contractor with an unlimited license. This allows them to provide oversight for all aspects of the job. Contractors with lower-tier licenses may not be qualified for your project.

  • Make sure the name, address, and other details match those of the contractor you are speaking with. Fraudulent or borrowed licenses are not uncommon.

Reputable contractors will happily provide their license details. Be very wary of any pushback when asking a contractor for proof of proper licensing. Overall, verifying licenses helps ensure you hire a compliant, law-abiding contractor for a smooth project.

Project Portfolio

A contractor’s project portfolio showcases their previous work and demonstrates their skills and abilities. When reviewing a contractor’s portfolio, look for projects similar to yours to get an idea of their experience with that type of construction. Pay attention to the quality of workmanship in their photos and videos. Some questions to ask:

  • Can you show me examples of other projects like mine that you’ve completed? Look at photos of finished projects to evaluate the contractor’s work quality.

  • What types of projects have you done in the past? Make sure they have experience with your type of project. Home additions require different skills than remodeling a kitchen or installing a pool.

  • How long have you been working in the construction industry? Look for several years of experience minimum.

  • May I have a list of references fro…

Design build is the common method for Metal Construction Buildings

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