Home improvement projects can be intimidating, especially when they are large and complex enough to warrant a General Contractor’s help. Once you have decided to move forward with your job, you must make sure that the Pro you hire is not only fit to do the job at hand, but that they will do the job right. You can get your job done smoothly and efficiently by knowing what questions to ask a contractor upfront.

What is your area of expertise?

Your contractor will likely have extensive knowledge and experience in many areas, but what about the project at hand? Before you tell them about your job, ask them what they are specifically skilled at – this will help you know up front if they have the expertise to complete your job. We also recommend verifying that their license is active on your state’s official contractor database.

How much experience do you specifically have with a job like this?

Be careful of contractors who say that they can do everything. In other words, don’t allow generalities; you need to know they can do the task required proficiently and that the end result will be what you desired.

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Do you plan on using sub-contractors?

Because a General Contractor may not be skilled at niche trades like plumbing and electrical, many times they will sub-contract portions of a job out to others. This is perfectly normal but needs to be clarified up front as you will want to know who is working on your project.

How long will the project last?

Your contractor needs to be able to give you an estimate of the time it will take to complete the job at hand. Many contractors underestimate how long it will take to complete the job, so make sure the time set forth to complete the job is contractual. If the job goes over, you don’t want to be charged extra for its completion.

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Will I be provided a contract to sign?

Contracts are made in an effort to ensure that the obligations promised are met. If your contractor does not commonly work on a contractual basis, and you are not sure about their qualifications, don’t wing it! Find someone with extensive experience for the job you need done that will provide a thorough, articulate contract of work to be completed.

Do you have liability insurance?

One of the more important questions to ask your contractor should be are they bonded and insured, thus making sure everything is covered from a financial perspective. A good rule of thumb is to make sure that they have enough insurance to rebuild your home if it should ever be needed.

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What are the risks involved with this job?

Make sure your General Contractor clarifies any dangers or potential accidents that are commonplace for the tasks you need completed. If there are any (which in most cases, there should be), be sure to find out what your contractor has prepared for a plan of action in these cases so you are not surprised by such things as unforeseen issues, accidents, injuries, or incomplete work.

Who will be on site for the job?

You want to know who will be working on your property at all times for a wide variety of reasons. Be sure you know who is going to be present and who is going to be in charge so you know who to go to with any questions or unforeseen issues.

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What is your process like for additional work needed?

Make sure you clarify all the details of your contractor’s change-order process and procedures. Make sure that you are able to set limits. If you work with your General Contractor up front to set up an hourly rate for overages and a cap on how much overages they can put through, you won’t be held up from getting your job done quickly and efficiently.

If you see any signs that your general contractor gives short shift or avoids the questions to ask a contractor – think again.

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About the Author:

Pro.com is a full-service home remodeling and construction general contractor serving the greater Seattle, Denver, Phoenix, San Francisco, San Jose and San Diego area. Home improvement is hard, and we make it easier for you every step of the way. That starts by understanding your goals, whether it’s making a space more livable, expanding your home, repairing damage, adding room for relatives, or something completely different. We’ll work with you to ensure you’re happy with the project from start to finish.