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Licensing plays an important role in many industries, and construction is no exception. Ask for a copy of their license and contact the issuing authority to ensure it is current and in good standing. In the state of Texas, a General Contractor isn't required to hold a license. However, all trades are required to hold and maintain an active license.
You want to pay attention to a few answers in regards to insurance.
First, your General Contractor should have general liability insurance that protects your home and property in the event of an accident. For instance, if the company hit a water line and flooded your house, you can be assured that they will take care of the cost for this type of disaster.
Second, your General Contractor should also carry workers' compensation. This protects the client from liability if an employee is hurt while working on your property.
Speak with former clients who have hired the General Contractor. Ask them about how the process works, as well as the outcome of the final product; bring up budgeting, timeliness, and professionalism.
Asking credible sources, would you hire this General Contractor again? Can be a great way to learn more.
It’s important to be on the same page with your General Contractor about when the work will begin and end work on your project, especially if you are on a deadline.
Whatever the reason, ask about any issues that may push back the completion date. Make sure the timeline is realistic, you can read more about common project timelines for projects here.
It is uncommon for a General Contractor to have every type of necessary worker in-house, especially with a new construction builder. Most commonly subcontracting out work to plumbers, painters, electricians, and other specialists in their craft.
Most General Contractors are not in the thick of it when it comes to slinging hammers. With that in mind, ask them how often they’ll stop by to check on your project to ensure the project is on track.
If they will not be checking in daily, who is the on-site project manager? Will you also be able to contact them directly with questions? You should feel confident that there is a person on-site tracking every phase of your new build or renovation.
Most contractors will guarantee their work, and some will even use a written warranty agreement. This should clearly disclose what is covered in the build, what is not, and for how long. Asking about warranties is definitely important when considering questions to ask a general contractor. Commonly a one-year warranty is provided, but two years is even better. Some General Contractors will provide long-term warranties for more permanent things like foundations.
The payment schedule is very important for both parties. You shouldn't be forced to pay the full price upfront, and most General Contractors shouldn't ask. Discuss this prior to starting work; including payment amounts, key deliverables, and due dates.
Construction can have many variables. There can be challenges that are clear from the beginning or issues discovered along the way.
Ask your potential General Contractor to be candid about these things from the start. This will help you prepare for any change orders or delays.
Questions are inevitable along the way, regardless of the size or scope. There should be a designated point of contact and a designated contact method. Whether this is by phone, text message, or email, it’s important to be able contact someone on efficiently.
The General Contractor should have a plan for communication. This can consist of a client dashboard or daily or weekly calls, ask for their protocol for communicating updates.
Inspection and permits vary by location; you may need county, city, or even HOA approvals. In addition, remodeling projects that plan to change the existing structure will require some type of approval.
A reputable General Contractor will understand which building permits are required and should handle this part of the project.
A lien waiver is a legal document verifying you have paid the General Contractor and all sub-contractors, waiving the signer’s right to file a lien on your property.
In simple terms, this can be thought of as the the construction industry’s version of a receipt. It is a best practice to work with a contractor who keeps detailed records for all projects.
If your project involves a restoring a historic home, experience is essential because processes can become complicated with the city.
The detailed process of merging the past and present can be a challenge. So you want to make sure you hire a General Contractor who has experience with the unique nature of historic renovations. Ask them for some examples of the work they’ve done on historic homes.