Top 10 Interview Questions to Ask A General Contractor in New York City
If you want to avoid these situations, then understand that the most critical part of the apartment renovation process lies in the hiring and interview process of a remodeling contractor. So here are the top 10 questions you should ask when you interview your New York City remodeling contractor candidates.
1) How Long Have You Been in the Construction Business?
Although this is not a guarantee, odds are you will have a successful experience with a long-standing contractor with decades of work history. This means two-fold that a contractor has a great reputation that keeps him in business, but more importantly, he has encountered a lot of the common mistakes and setbacks that derail projects and knows what to expect. With his knowledge, he can anticipate problems ahead of time and factor that into his quote and timeline.
2) Are You Licensed and Insured?
Hopefully, for most contractors you encounter this answer should be an outstanding yes, but you would be surprised how many homeowners forgot to answer this question or assumed a contractor had it, only to find out they did not. This can leave a homeowner in a big bind if they bring someone in not qualified to work on a house and something goes wrong. Insurance is especially important because a contractor who gets hurt on a job or does any water damage during a kitchen remodels can file a claim against your policy or not be obligated to pay damages if they don’t have a worker’s compensation or liability policy.
3) What Is Our Timeline for Completion?
While most people will usually ask this question in some capacity, it is always important that they ask these questions the right way and be on the same page as their contractor. Do not simply just ask when they expect to finish, because with large jobs it is harder to get a degree of accuracy down of when a job would be completed. While asking for a range might be more reasonable, it still can lease error on the table if a job has unexpected setbacks.
It is important to establish a timeline rather than a deadline, by understanding how the contractor is setting up tasks on the job and understanding dependencies of some tasks against others. Understand what is being done and know the risks so you can get a better feel for how long a project will take. Do not hold your contractor to a certain date or range.
4) What Kind of Staff Do You Have Working for You On This?
Understand a contractor will have a team of people under him or next to him helping to deliver your project whether it is a kitchen renovation or a bathroom remodel. It is important to understand who else will be in your house, and other companies or personnel involved in your apartment remodel. If you are working with a design-build firm, make sure you can meet with designers he will be communicating with to be comfortable with everyone that is working on your apartment renovation.
5) How Will You Maintain Cleanliness?
It is important to understand a contractor’s worksite habits and schedule, especially if you intend to occupy your household during the construction project. Make sure you are on the same page of knowing when their start and stop times will be, and how they intend to practice cleanliness, when it comes to putting away tools, discarding debris, and any dust accumulations that may occur.
6) Will I Need to Move Furniture?
Always ask if they need you to move any furniture and if you do not trust them to touch your furniture, make sure you have arrangements to store it in a safe place.
7) How Will Additional Charges Be Dealt With?
A lot of times contractors try to lure in customers by low balling a project with a lump sum guarantee that the project will cost a certain amount. But unforeseen circumstances such as code compliance, or rising cost in materials can throw this number off and put a contractor in a bind or put you in mind if there is fine print that is missed. Work with your contractor to know more than the bottom line, understand the labor associated with tasks, and the potential issues that may come up those increase labor hours. A good contractor will quote you a lump sum on labor plus the cost of materials.
8) How Will Disagreements Be Resolved
You should always have a plan in place for being able to deal with unforeseen disagreements. Have a plan to determine how to resolve conflicts, whether it is to bring in an arbitrator, or have a pre-determined list of options you can consider resolving any potential conflicts.
9) Will You Handle the Permitting Process?
Most customers make the mistake of assuming that a contractor or a design-build will handle all the permitting and approval processes. While most generally will, it is important to know this ahead of time because if you hire someone who will not, this could lead to huge conflicts and project delays.
10) Why Should I Hire You?
It may seem cliché, but this question can tell you a lot about the person you are bringing in to improve your space. Are they confident in their abilities to do a bathroom remodel, or are they just a kitchen renovation specialist trying to get business? If they specialize in a kitchen remodel, can they back their reputation with a portfolio of examples? Always ensure you are hiring a contractor that is confident they can do the job you hire them to.