12 Questions to Ask When Hiring a Contractor
Updated: Feb 15
When looking for a general contractor or construction company, you’ll want to do your due diligence to ensure that you find the best person for the job. Knowing the right questions to ask your next building contractor or construction company can save you from losing money and/or time with subpar home or remodeling contractors.
What is the estimated cost?
Have you worked on similar projects in the past?
How long have you been in the industry?
Can I have a list of references?
Can I have a timeline?
How easily can I get in touch with you?
Will I have one contact person?
Can I have your license number?
Have you ever operated under a different business name?
Do you carry workman’s comp?
Can I see your insurance policy?
Are you a member of any professional organizations?
1. What is the estimated cost-in writing?
Make sure to get a written estimate from your building contractor of how much your project will cost. Ask for detailed estimates so you can compare quotes fairly. Watch out for a quote that’s significantly lower than the others. It could mean that it doesn’t include all the labor and materials needed.
2. Have you worked on similar projects?
Just as lawyers specialize in different areas of the law, contractors specialize in different types of projects. Don’t assume that just because a company has done a good job with one type of build that they’ll be able to produce the same results with your project. Asking about the number and types of projects they’ve worked on in the past can help you determine if they’re an expert in what you need.
3. How long have you been in the industry?
While years in the field doesn’t necessarily mean a contractor is better, it’s wise to check that this isn’t the company’s first-ever construction project of its kind. Ask for positive references from jobs that are similar to yours (see next question).
4. Can I have a list of references?
Run for the hills if the answer is no. Good references and testimonials are the calling card of any reputable construction business. Trying to avoid giving you references probably means that they’ve had some not-so-glowing reviews of their work.
5. Can I have a timeline?
Ask for a comprehensive timeline of the project. If it’s vague and noncommittal, proceed with caution. You deserve a contractor who prioritizes your project.
6. How easily can I get in touch with you?
If you aren’t given a physical address, be warned. This could be a red flag that the business could easily shutter and move on if your project goes awry. Your contractor should also be quick to answer his phone and emails promptly within normal business hours, as well as promptly return phone calls.
7. Will I have one contact person?
Another red flag? Not having one dependable go-to person for your questions and construction updates. You’ll also want to know who will be on-site and supervising the build.
8. Can I have your license number?
When applicable, you should always ask for a contractor’s license. Unfortunately, the states of Vermont and New Hampshire have not yet adopted any contractor licensing for general contractors and home builders/remodelers. However, Massachusetts requires specific contractor licensing for each trade. Dupuis Construction is licensed in the state of Massachusetts with an unrestricted Construction Supervisor’s License. Vermont and New Hampshire both have specific licensing for plumbers and electricians. It is important that you work with a general contractor who only works with licensed subcontractors if there is an applicable license for their trade.
9. Have you ever operated under a different name?
This is a sign that the business might be on the shady side. If they’ve operated under a different name, this may mean that they were shut down before and reopened under a new title.
10. Do you carry workman’s comp?
We can’t stress how important this is. If a company employee injures themselves while on the clock on your project and they’re uninsured, you could foot the medical bills. Make sure that the contractor has all employees covered by workers comp insurance before they begin working on your property.
11. Can I see your insurance policy?
While you can’t tell if someone has insurance by the certificate alone, policy details can still be shared. While most contractors have only a tradesmen general liability policy, it’s important to also have an actual general contractors policy.
12. Are you a member of any professional organizations?
While not critical, belonging to professional organizations shows dedication to their chosen industry. Membership typically involves continuing education and training to stay on top of best practices in their field.