Imagine a beautiful open living space with high ceilings, hardwood floors, floor to ceiling windows and a fireplace for those cold winter nights…I bet you’re looking at your living room right now thinking to yourself, “Oh, that sounds lovely.” You later decide you want one, but you’re stumped cause as you search through the internet you realise that there are a lot of Builders in your area. The dilemma now sets in…who to choose?

The client who has done their research and ask questions are usually favored by builders who’ve been in the industry the longest, because a good builder gets the chance to brag about their industry knowledge and highlight their skills which is very crucial when they want to get your buy-in and they should not be confusing you with construction jargon, they should make it simple and easy for you to understand.

Here are the top 5 questions to ask your potential builder as you find the best one:

1. How Long Have You Been Doing Business in This Town?

A contractor who’s been plying his trade locally for five or 10 years has an established network of subcontractors and suppliers in the area and a local reputation to uphold. That makes them a safer bet than a contractor who’s either new to the business or planning to commute to your job from 50 miles away.

Ask for:

  • A business card with a nearby address — not a P.O. box.
  • References from one or two of his earliest clients. This’ll help you verify he hasn’t just recently hung his shingle.
  • Ask for a contracting license – this will tell you if they are legitimate in their field of expertise.
  • Ask to see a certificate of insurance – Contractors should have worker’s compensation or liability insurance for the job they perform this will ensure that they are not insured in an entirely different capacity than the job you’re hiring him for.
  • Ask who their main suppliers are – this will help you understand where your materials and resources will be coming from and also this will tell you if they have a good network of business.

2. When you quote for a job will it be an estimate or a fixed price?

There are contractors who will treat their quotes or bids to projects as estimates, what this means to you is that your bill could wind up being higher in the end. To avoid this, request a fixed price bid or quote instead.

If a contractor says he can’t offer you a fixed price because there may be too many unknowns about the job, then have them eliminate the unknowns. For example, if you have an old house have them open up a wall or check roofs and pipes – one of the biggest issues may be asbestos which is a big health risk and could bring up the price to your quote as this needs special treatment and considerations.Otherwise if you can’t resolve the unknowns, have the contractor provide their project specifics which describes only what they are expected to do. If additional work is needed, you can request to do a change order which is a written document for new or additional work.

Additionally Ask for:

  • What the payment schedule would be like – this ensures work will be done in a timely manner and allows you to budget your income accordingly. A reputable contractor shouldn’t ask you to pay for the project in full immediately before the start of a project. It’s important to discuss payment terms before construction begins, and proper expectations should be set on exactly how much will be due and when –all this should also be stipulated on the contract which is usually found under or indicative of “Payment.”

3. What projects have you completed? Do you have projects you’re currently working on?

A contractor whose business has been around for quite some time or even for those who have just recently started their business would most definitely have a list of completed projects they can show you, they may even already have it posted on their websites and social media accounts, so do your research. The main purpose for you to ask this question is to find a reference person you can speak to or contact to ask how their experience was with the contractor. This is more like doing a background check on the contractor and asking feedback from previous or current clients.

In this aspect, you’ll also know if the contractor sticks to their timeline to complete the work they do. The last thing you need is a contractor who’s doing a lot of projects at the same time that they might not end up prioritising yours.

4. Could you introduce me to the team who’ll be working on my project?

A good contractor wouldn’t necessarily wait for you to ask this question they would offer to introduce you to the team while their doing a current project for you to observe, but if they miss it, make sure to ask. More often than not, the person you speak to initially don’t do the work – they might be the receptionist, sales associate or owner of the business – no offense to their position at work, but they’re not the ones getting their hands dirty in getting the projects done.

You’d want to ensure you meet the people who’ll be coming and going to your property and for these reasons:

  • For your safety – you don’t want some shady people coming to your house.
  • For you to assess how they do their work.
  • The supervisor or foreman is usually the main person you’d want to meet and observe since they will be the one in-charge. The supervisor or foreman is also who would be providing you updates and discuss with you anything they find that may need your attention.

5. What if there was an issue, how do we resolve any disagreements?

Now, this question would normally throw off any one. Ideally no business would want to get into any sort of disagreements with their client, but the reality is, it happens! There will be times where some form of disagreement may arise, and a good contractor will answer this question as honestly as they could, stating to address the disagreement and find a solution to the issue you’ll both be facing. At the end of the day there should be a win-win for both parties.

If you need help or professional advise feel free to reach out to us, we’ll be happy to help you!