20 Questions to Ask your Contractor

Post and Beam Contemporary KitchenNow that your timber frame home plans are complete, it is time to decide on a timber frame company and/or general contractor to build your home. You may find contenders in several different ways: referrals from friends, seeing a desirable home being built, visiting a Parade of Homes, attending home shows, or even by surfing the internet.

It is highly recommended to interview, and get pricing from , three different companies. In order to attempt to compare apples-to-apples bids, we advise you to use a Request for Proposal, and have detailed plans and specifications prepared. But you will still have questions you need to ask that go above and beyond budget estimates. You need to know your builders’ history and reputation, both in financial matters and client satisfaction. You will want to clarify who will be  in charge of your home’s construction, and how much time they will devote to your project. And you need to be sure of the expected time frame for completion (realizing that construction projects are subject to delays because of weather, suppliers or subcontractors).

Timber Stairs with LandingSo, before you make your final decision, here are 20 questions to ask your contractor. You may want to add or eliminate some questions, based upon your individual concerns.

1. How many years have you been building houses?
2. Do you and all of your subcontractors have the necessary licenses?
3. How many homes do you build per year?
4. What is the average price range of the homes you build?
5. What type of insurance do you and your subcontractors carry?
6. Can we check with your banks regarding your credit history?
7. Have you had any liens against your company?
8. Can you provide references from customers whose homes you have built? May we contact those references?
9. May we see a few examples of homes you have built?
10. Will you build this as contract pricing or cost-plus?
11. Will you provide an itemized budget stating detailed exact specifications?
12. Who oversees the subcontractors on the jobsite? How often is the supervisor on the jobsite?
13. Do I have access to the site throughout construction?
14. Will I have a schedule as to when selections will be needed?
15. How will you communicate with me on the status of construction?
16. What is the estimated time frame for completion of this project?
17. What is your home warranty? Whom do we contact for warranty matters?
18. What is the process for payment and ownership?
19. Are trees to be removed sold? Can we utilize lumber from any of the trees?
20. Can you provide the following?
• Evidence of workmen’s compensation insurance.
• Evidence of liability and builder’s risk insurance.
• Identities of the likely subcontractors.
• References of three most recent customers.
• Three trade references.
• Bank reference.
• Copy of state contractor’s license.
• Terms of House Warranty.

Hughes Front Elevation

As you can see, there is a lot more to this relationship with your contractor than price alone. In order to have a successful, relatively stress-free building experience, communication is key. Now is the time, before you sign that contract, to iron out everybody’s expectations of how the project will unfold. There are always little surprises in  building a home – but the more you communicate, the closer the process will be to fulfilling your dreams.

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