Im thinking of hiring a general contractor for a construction project.
We are looking at a possible construction and expansion project and will need to hire a general contractor to run and oversee the project. What are some questions that will help me evaluate the candidates and avoid the most common pitfalls?
David, There are many things to consider when embarking on a construction project. Choosing engineers and architects, financing, marketing, legal contracts, zoning and development regulations, and others. I will stick with the question asked. In choosing the GC, the 1st question is to ask yourself exactly what you want his role to be? Is he going to coordinate the entire project for you including working with engineers and architects, coordinating the permit process with the local municipality, and build the project for you, or are you going to hand him a permit card and a plan set and have him get started. Or are you going to not hand him a plan set and have him get started? Having clearly defined and well communicated expectations is the first step. After that, find GCs whose skills match your needs. Maybe one candidate cost 10% more, but he used to work for your local building department. He sells this to you as an added value that will help you through the permit process. Sounds good, until you figure out he's a jerk and his former colleagues can't stand him. Or maybe you need help getting a permit, and one contractor's background is architecture. He's probably worth paying more than the GC whose back ground is as a roofer. The next step is interviewing a few contractors to find one who you think you will work well. You will be dealing with this person on a daily basis, often times discussing things that have large dollar signs attached. You must be able to navigate challenges together. Anyone you hire must provide you references (ask about character, reliability, business stability, and warrantee service). ALso get a copy of his ACORD Insurance certificate and call the issueing agent to verify that it is in effect, and covers him for the work at hand. If he is uninsured, or is insured for a different type of work, do not use him. Does he have a contractor's license? Have a written contract that you are comfortable with. Do not issue a check without getting a signed lein waiver. There are many things to think about. Do your homework and choose carefully. Don't just look at the low bid.
Let's start with the worst case scenario - you pick a contractor who makes it to the midway point in your project and then disappears, doesn't pay the subs, and leaves you with liens on your property. A few questions to start with include