Questions you should ask contractors

9 Replies

Here's the questions I generally ask a new contractor that I've never worked with before:

What Are The Contractor's Qualifications?

How Long Has The Contractor Been In Business Or In The Construction Industry?

​​This one is misleading because the company could be new, but the contractor could have 10 years of experience, so be sure to find out how much construction experience the contractor has in the industry.

What Is The Contractor's Average Sized Project?

​It's important to find out the scale & scope of work for the Contractor's typical project. Does the contractor typically only work on small bathroom remodels or are they qualified to manage a full rehab project?

What Trades Does The Contractor Typically Self-Perform? What Trades Does The Contractor Typically Subcontract?

Will the Contractor be self-performing the work or hiring other contractors to perform the work? It's important to understand who will be performing the work on your project and making sure that the subcontractors your contractor are utilizing are qualified, licensed & insured as well.

Does The Contractor Have A Portfolio Or References?

Project Portfolio

Ask your Contractor if they can provide a portfolio of past projects that highlights the Contractor's quality and craftsmanship. Your Contractor should be able to provide marketing materials or a link to their website where you can see photos of their completed projects.

Reviews

Check for reviews online for your Contractor to see what other past clients are saying about the Contractor:

  • Google Reviews
  • Facebook Reviews
  • Thumbtack/Houzz/Angi
  • Better Business Bureau

What's The Contractor's Availability?

What Other Jobs Is The Contractor Currently Working On That Could Affect Your Project?

​Ask your Contractor what other projects they currently have going or planned during your project to understand how your project will be prioritized.

How Many Employees Does The Contractor Have? Do They Have Enough Manpower To Staff Your Project?

If your Contractor does have multiple projects going at once, find out how many employees they have and ask if they have enough manpower to staff your project. You should generally have at least 1 or 2 workers on-site everyday in order to keep your projects on-schedule. (No lost days!)

When Can The Contractor Start Construction And How Long Will Construction Take?

Find out when the Contractor can start the project and discuss the time frame the contractor estimates it will take to complete the project.

How Does The Contractor Handle Unforeseen Issues Or Change Orders?

When rehabbing houses, unforeseen issues are going to inevitably happen on your projects, which can often arise in arguments, conflicts and change orders. The way that you and your Contractor manage these issues are essential to maintaining a strong working relationship, staying on-track and on-budget.

  1. What is the Change Order process?
  2. How are Change Orders communicated and agreed upon?
  3. How are Change Orders priced?

Is The Contractor Licensed And Insured?

Contractor Licensing

For certain trades and scopes of work (generally Structural, Plumbing, HVAC, Electrical) you will need to hire a Licensed Contractor to perform the work. In some areas, your General Contractor and Subcontractors will need to be licensed in order to pull permits for the project. Check your local building department to determine which Contractors need to be licensed on your projects.

Contractor Insurance

Always make sure your General Contractor or Subcontractors working on your project have their own General Contractor Liability insurance. The insurance should cover:

  1. Bodily injury to you, your family or visitor's of the property.
  2. Any accidental damage to your property.
  3. Workman's compensation for injuries to the contractor's or subcontractors employees.​

Has The Contractor Ever Had Legal Issues?

  1. Does the Contractor have any legal judgements, lawsuits, or arbitration proceedings pending or in the past?
  2. Has the Contractor filed a Lien on a property?
Originally posted by @Dan Nikolich :

What are some questions you think are necessary to ask contractors when fix and flipping?

Here are some questions I commonly ask my Ohio Contractors

1. Do you have pictures and references for your work?

2. Do you have a working agreement, what will draws be like?

3. Do you have a reliable crew or do you subcontract?

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Originally posted by @Steven Wilson :
Originally posted by @Dan Nikolich:

What are some questions you think are necessary to ask contractors when fix and flipping?

Here are some questions I commonly ask my Ohio Contractors

1. Do you have pictures and references for your work?

2. Do you have a working agreement, what will draws be like?

3. Do you have a reliable crew or do you subcontract?

Those are all great questions to understand how your contract operates and what resources they have to overcome any challenges.  Time is money in our business. Asking questions to understand does not cost us anything.

Originally posted by @Dan Nikolich :
Originally posted by @Steven Wilson:
Originally posted by @Dan Nikolich:

What are some questions you think are necessary to ask contractors when fix and flipping?

Here are some questions I commonly ask my Ohio Contractors

1. Do you have pictures and references for your work?

2. Do you have a working agreement, what will draws be like?

3. Do you have a reliable crew or do you subcontract?

Those are all great questions to understand how your contract operates and what resources they have to overcome any challenges.  Time is money in our business. Asking questions to understand does not cost us anything.

Correct, and also I've gone through a handful of contractors, sometimes they change, for better or worse, you just have to keep adapting.

Originally posted by @David Robertson :

Here's the questions I generally ask a new contractor that I've never worked with before:

What Are The Contractor's Qualifications?

How Long Has The Contractor Been In Business Or In The Construction Industry?

​​This one is misleading because the company could be new, but the contractor could have 10 years of experience, so be sure to find out how much construction experience the contractor has in the industry.

What Is The Contractor's Average Sized Project?

​It's important to find out the scale & scope of work for the Contractor's typical project. Does the contractor typically only work on small bathroom remodels or are they qualified to manage a full rehab project?

What Trades Does The Contractor Typically Self-Perform? What Trades Does The Contractor Typically Subcontract?

Will the Contractor be self-performing the work or hiring other contractors to perform the work? It's important to understand who will be performing the work on your project and making sure that the subcontractors your contractor are utilizing are qualified, licensed & insured as well.

Does The Contractor Have A Portfolio Or References?

Project Portfolio

Ask your Contractor if they can provide a portfolio of past projects that highlights the Contractor's quality and craftsmanship. Your Contractor should be able to provide marketing materials or a link to their website where you can see photos of their completed projects.

Reviews

Check for reviews online for your Contractor to see what other past clients are saying about the Contractor:

  • Google Reviews
  • Facebook Reviews
  • Thumbtack/Houzz/Angi
  • Better Business Bureau

What's The Contractor's Availability?

What Other Jobs Is The Contractor Currently Working On That Could Affect Your Project?

​Ask your Contractor what other projects they currently have going or planned during your project to understand how your project will be prioritized.

How Many Employees Does The Contractor Have? Do They Have Enough Manpower To Staff Your Project?

If your Contractor does have multiple projects going at once, find out how many employees they have and ask if they have enough manpower to staff your project. You should generally have at least 1 or 2 workers on-site everyday in order to keep your projects on-schedule. (No lost days!)

When Can The Contractor Start Construction And How Long Will Construction Take?

Find out when the Contractor can start the project and discuss the time frame the contractor estimates it will take to complete the project.

How Does The Contractor Handle Unforeseen Issues Or Change Orders?

When rehabbing houses, unforeseen issues are going to inevitably happen on your projects, which can often arise in arguments, conflicts and change orders. The way that you and your Contractor manage these issues are essential to maintaining a strong working relationship, staying on-track and on-budget.

  1. What is the Change Order process?
  2. How are Change Orders communicated and agreed upon?
  3. How are Change Orders priced?

Is The Contractor Licensed And Insured?

Contractor Licensing

For certain trades and scopes of work (generally Structural, Plumbing, HVAC, Electrical) you will need to hire a Licensed Contractor to perform the work. In some areas, your General Contractor and Subcontractors will need to be licensed in order to pull permits for the project. Check your local building department to determine which Contractors need to be licensed on your projects.

Contractor Insurance

Always make sure your General Contractor or Subcontractors working on your project have their own General Contractor Liability insurance. The insurance should cover:

  1. Bodily injury to you, your family or visitor's of the property.
  2. Any accidental damage to your property.
  3. Workman's compensation for injuries to the contractor's or subcontractors employees.​

Has The Contractor Ever Had Legal Issues?

  1. Does the Contractor have any legal judgements, lawsuits, or arbitration proceedings pending or in the past?
  2. Has the Contractor filed a Lien on a property?

 David- Those are very in-depth questions that are fantastic for investors to get answered when they are interviewing contractors.  Knowledge is power.  

Something I always try to find out from either references or just my conversations with contractors is whether or not they are the perfectionist type who can't give anybody else any control in the job. For example - someone who wants to do all the work on an entire house flip. I appreciate that they want to do the best job in the world, but those types of contractors get in their own way and take FOREVER to complete jobs. Also, they will tend to under estimate the cost of time and materials on there end, often leaving them feeling underpaid after spending every waking hour at the job for the last 3 months. There is certainly a balance here and in my opinion regardless of whether it is a subcontractor or GC, they should have some experience delegating duty and being realistic with time deadlines.

@Dan Nikolich …I’ve found the best way to see if the Contractor/Customer are right for each other is to have a meeting on an existing job. This takes less time away from the company and allows many of the questions from the customer to be answered without even having to ask. Quality of work, condition of tools and job site, examples of finished work, type of people the company employs, etc.

I’ve been on both sides and over the past few years have been building a small, investor focused maintenance and construction company and I very rarely don’t wind up doing business with another investor once they stop by one of our jobs and visit with us. As a contractor it allows me to see how the potential customer handles themselves (being prompt, navigating a job site, interacting with my guys, etc) and also starts to set the tone of the experience we would have if we work together and potentially eliminate surprises. It also lets them see the types of finishes we use and usually leaves them with a sense of comfort and some initial trust in us to do right by them given what they can see within a 20-30 minute visit.

Originally posted by @Christopher Contento :

@Dan Nikolich…I’ve found the best way to see if the Contractor/Customer are right for each other is to have a meeting on an existing job. This takes less time away from the company and allows many of the questions from the customer to be answered without even having to ask. Quality of work, condition of tools and job site, examples of finished work, type of people the company employs, etc.

I’ve been on both sides and over the past few years have been building a small, investor focused maintenance and construction company and I very rarely don’t wind up doing business with another investor once they stop by one of our jobs and visit with us. As a contractor it allows me to see how the potential customer handles themselves (being prompt, navigating a job site, interacting with my guys, etc) and also starts to set the tone of the experience we would have if we work together and potentially eliminate surprises. It also lets them see the types of finishes we use and usually leaves them with a sense of comfort and some initial trust in us to do right by them given what they can see within a 20-30 minute visit.

 

@Christopher Contento That is a great approach! Being on a project with a contractor/investor will give you great insight on how they get things done and their attention to detail.