Posted over 1 year ago

7 Must-Ask Questions When Hiring Contractors

Time is money. Finding a quality contractor as quickly as possible can increase profits and help avoid wastes. Asking the right questions can make all the difference between profit and failure. When interviewing a potential contractor, consider the following questions in your evaluation process:

1. How long have you been in business?

Asking for background is essential for finding a quality contractor. The contractor will need to state how long they have been in business for themselves, if they have had partners in the past, and other companies they may have worked for before opening their own business. 

2. Have you ever operated under another name, been sued, or been forced off a job?

Remember court records are open to the public. Don’t be afraid to consult a General Council to look up any suspected problems with a prospective contractor.

3. Is your license up to date?

Though many tradesmen do quality work ‘on the side’, having a licensed contractor is a must. Asking for a copy of the license is acceptable and prudent before considering the contractor or any subcontractors on the job. The license should include all states the contractor does business.

4. Are you insured?

Any real business person will understand that insurance is a must. The bare minimum is General Liability Insurance to protect against any disastrous event. Depending upon the size of the project, additional coverage may be needed. They should carry Workers Compensation Insurance to protect the subcontractors and laborers on the job. Making sure the job site and all workers are protected will help lead to a safe and profitable outcome.

5. What is your standard warranty?

Never accept verbal warranty agreements. Find out specific coverages and exclusions prior to awarding the project. A good standard for a General Contractor is to revisit the project in six months and again in one year (if no calls have been made for repairs) just to make sure everything is stable and working properly. Some higher quality General Contractors will continue to cover and recheck the property up to two years.

6. What about permits and inspections?

The General Contractor’s job is to make sure all permits are in order and all work is up to codes for the area. The investor should never be responsible for obtaining permits or dealing with building inspectors. If there are any problems, the General Contractor should notify the investor, and deal with the problem accordingly.

7. How many ongoing projects do you have? 

Hiring a General Contractor who has ‘spread himself too thin’ can be problematic for all the projects if something unforeseen occurs. A busy contractor could be a sign their business is thriving, but a contractor who cannot devote enough time equally to each job site may lead to issues with managing the project, overseeing the progress, and completing everything in a timely manner. Discuss with the General Contractor their schedule before deciding if they are right for the job. 

Comments (3)

  1. I would add one more item to the due diligence on a contractor.  Those wishing to hire a contractor should check the contractor's criminal background record.  Other than investing, I have a background in the criminal justice system.  I have observed that among those on whom criminal charges were referred for prosecution, criminal backgrounds typically involved violations involving DECEPTION, i.e. forgery, execution of document by deception, misapplication of property as a fiduciary, perjury, etc.  Its that ability to deceive that an offending contractor is able to induce a potential victim to hand over moneys.

  2. excellent tips!

  3. I am in investing in a area that is very hard to find reliable contractors.  Central PA and have never experienced this lack of willingness to work.  I have 2 properties that need roof work. I got one out that did the main roof and now impossible to get them back to finish the addition roof. I prefer to stay with licensed contractors because with hiring from a place like CL you might get someone who says they have lots of experience and then in reality they do not.  Then you end up spending more money to correct mistakes.  Thanks for the Good tips in your post.