NINE QUESTIONS TO ASK BEFORE HIRING YOUR NEXT GENERAL CONTRACTOR
When you hire a general contractor for a Naples, Florida-area residential or commercial construction project, you are putting them in charge of a broad range of responsibilities and a variety of workers.
Your general contractor will need to carefully manage and coordinate permitting, engineering, subcontracting, materials acquisition, labor, inspections, and related project elements. Skilled general contractors are adept at choreographing these disparate construction elements to successfully deliver high-quality construction on time and within budget.
But how does one go about finding such skilled general contractors? Other than seeing their previous work and talking to their former clients, how can you be sure that a prospective general contractor has what it takes to complete your project successfully?
It takes one to know one, and, as a fourth-generation general contracting firm, Naples, Florida-based Carlson Harris knows what it takes to construct high-quality buildings on time and within budget. So, we would recommend that you talk to your prospective general contractor and ask them specific questions we’ve highlighted below. Their responses can help highlight their strengths and expose any potential shortcomings. Some answers should also generate follow-up questions that can further help you determine if you have found the perfect general contractor for your project.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GENERAL CONTRACTOR?
An experienced general contractor will likely provide you with a synopsis of the trajectory of their contracting career, with highlights about any projects they are most proud of. General contractors with limited experience may not have all that much to say.
ARE YOU LICENSED?
You should ask this question because you are looking for a general contractor, not a handyman. In Florida, anyone responsible for construction that will become a finished part of a structure and cost $500 or more requires a general contractor license.
WHAT INSURANCE DO YOU CARRY?
This question is as important as the one about licensing. Your general contractor should have both worker’s compensation and liability insurance covering the type of work they perform. An experienced general contractor will not hesitate to show you their insurance documents.
HOW MANY PROJECTS ARE YOU WORKING ON RIGHT NOW?
This question can raise a red flag if the contractor responds that they are currently inactive or between jobs. Skilled general contractors in southwest Florida are in such high demand that there is no such thing as “between jobs.”
Depending on the size of the contractor’s firm, being engaged with multiple projects could be a problematic response. Any follow-up questions to this one should suss out whether they can seamlessly fit your project into the mix.
HAVE ANY PROJECTS YOU HAVE WORKED ON RESULTED IN LEGAL ACTION?
A “yes” answer to this question may represent a red flag, but it depends upon the circumstances of the lawsuit. General contracting is a business, and litigation between contractors and clients does happen. If a client has sued the contractor, you will want to learn more about the reasons for the lawsuit and its resolution. Ditto, if the contractor has sued a client. If the contractor fails to provide you with sufficient information about the litigation, you may not want to hire them. Even if they do provide you with relevant details, there are two sides to the story, and you might want to investigate further.
The contractor may also have been involved in litigation over on-the-job injuries. A positive response isn’t necessarily a red flag. Note how they handled the situation and whether they’ve taken steps to prevent future on-site accidents.
HOW DO YOU HANDLE COMMUNICATIONS WITH YOUR CLIENTS?
You will want to hear a clear-cut response to this question that suggests communications are essential and will be regular. Commitments to regularly scheduled status reports are good, as are statements that tell you that you can contact the contractor and/or his project managers anytime.
HOW DO YOU MAINTAIN YOUR JOB SITE?
The answer to this question can give you a sense of your general contractor’s professionalism. A positive response should be along the lines of maintaining a clean and safe job site. In which workers close each day by clearing debris, storing equipment, and arranging materials.
WHAT KIND OF PAYMENT TERMS WOULD YOU LIKE TO USE?
If the general contractor requests full payment in advance, find another contractor. Reputable contractors tend to have enough in reserve to get the job rolling. It’s not unreasonable for them to request an upfront payment that covers 20%-30% of estimated total costs. Your contractor might also want to schedule periodic payments based on the meeting of project milestones. Whatever terms you agree to, make sure you get them in writing.
HOW DO YOU ENSURE THAT PROJECTS ARE COMPLETED ON TIME AND ON BUDGET?
This question is an effective means for fleshing out whether the prospective contractor relies on a distinct process to coordinate the numerous elements that combine to deliver high-quality construction. Carlson Harris, by the way, uses a six-step plan to keep its Naples-area construction projects on time and within budget.
CARLSON HARRIS GENERAL CONTRACTOR WOULD BE PLEASED TO TAKE QUESTIONS FROM YOU
Naturally, there are other questions that you can ask that will help you find the perfect general contractor for your project. These 9 questions serve as a great starting point and will inevitably lead to other questions during the interview.
If you seek a highly skilled and efficient general contractor in Southwest Florida, Naples-based Carlson Harris would be happy to answer any questions. We guarantee the highest quality workmanship delivered on time and within budget, whatever the project. To learn more, contact Carlson Harris today at 239-352-2460.