When you hire a commercial general contractor, you need to feel confident that they will be looking after your best interests and that there will be consistent two way communication throughout the entire process. If you are unsure of anything you have the right to ask questions of your contractor at any time. Here are 10 common things you should ask your contractor if you’re not sure:
1. What are your company’s primary areas of expertise?
The general contractor you have selected will likely have specific areas of expertise in the construction industry. A single contractor may not be a master in constructing all kinds of projects. Therefore, you must ask a contractor about their specific expertise to ensure your project is not the first of its kind for the contractor. Request contact information from the owners of the business who they have worked for in the past. If they are hesitant in providing this information you should consider another contractor.
2. Do you have valid WCB and liability insurance?
Check whether the contractor has current Workers Compensation Insurance and a minimum of adequate general liability insurance. A reputable contractor can easily and quickly provide you with a “WCB Clearance Letter” and a Certificate of Insurance confirming that they are covered.
3. Will you be using subcontractors on my project?
It is very normal for your general contractor to use subcontractors to complete portions of the work. If they do, ask your general contractor how they prequalify their subcontractors for quality and safety.
4. How do you deal with changes to the work scope?
Most projects at some point encounter changes to the scope of work, either as a result of the client wanting something changed, or a site condition that is encountered that wasn’t anticipated. How does the contractor bring this to your attention? Do they require your written approval being proceeding with a change? How will the cost of the change be identified and approved?
5. How will you be protecting the areas outside the construction area to contain dust & debris?
If you’ve hired a general contractor for renovation work at your business, you should ask them to make sure dust and dirt doesn’t get to the other parts of your location, which are not under construction. How do they plan on hoarding off the work area?
6. What safety policies and procedures does you company have that will protect the workers and any visitors to the jobsite?
A reputable commercial general contractor will be a robust Health & Safety program that ensures the worksite is a safe place to be. The general contractor is responsible for the safety of everyone entering the worksite. In some instances, even you as the client may be restricted from certain areas of the worksite. How and when will you have access to inspect the work as it progresses?
7. Who will be my one point of contact once the work begins?
It is valuable to have a single point of contact for any and all project related communications. Having too many people receiving or providing information can result in confusion and things being missed.
8. How will the work be invoiced to me?
Will a deposit be required? This is normal in the construction industry as there are many costs that the contractor can incur even before arriving to the jobsite. Will you be receiving bi-weekly invoices? How long have you got to pay each invoice? What forms of payment does the contractor accept?
9. How long will the work take to complete?
You may also ask the contractor to provide you with a timeline for the project. How will changes to this timeline be communicated to you?
10. How will warranty issues be dealt with once the project is complete?
Will you be contacting the general contractor directly for warranty issues or will you need to contact the subcontractors and suppliers?