Thinking about hiring a contractor? Did you know it is the contractor that makes – or breaks – your project? Your selection of a contractor for your project is the single most important decision you will make throughout the entire building process. Finding the right contractor for the job will not only determine the quality and timeline of the work, it will save you an immense amount of emotional stress, time and money.

We encourage all potential and current clients to do their due diligence. Here are the most important questions you should be asking before hiring a contractor:

1. Do you have a Contracting License? This question should always be asked first and THE ANSWER TO THIS QUESTION SHOULD ALWAYS BE YES! Tip- We encourage you to ask them for a copy of their license.

2. Do you have Insurance? Again, the answer to this question should ALWAYS BE YES! You should be sure your contractor has workers’ compensation and liability insurance SPECIFIC to the type of job they are being hired to perform on your behalf. Make sure to see they have a copy of their certificate of insurance. Workers compensation protects YOU, the owner, from liability if there were to be an accident on your property. The same holds true for all subcontractors working on your property.

3. Will you obtain permits and set up the inspections required for this job? Your general contractor SHOULD definitely handle this.

4. Have you ever been sued? Although you can look up these records as they are public, asking a potential contractor this directly gives you the opportunity to give them the chance to explain how the issue was resolved … and gives them the opportunity to address systems they now have in place to ensure that it would never happen again.

5. What is the timeline for completion? While it is completely normal for there to be unexpected interruptions throughout the building process, an experienced contractor should be able to give you a specific project timeline for completion. In the case where you need additional time to fix issues that are beyond your control, you should be able to have your contractor sign a time and materials contract. According to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), “These contracts provide for the payment of labor costs on the basis of fixed hourly billing rates which are specified in the contract. These hourly billing rates would include wages, indirect costs, general and administrative expense, and profit. There is a fixed-price element to the T&M contract – the fixed hourly billing rates. But these contracts also operate as cost-type contracts in the sense that labor hours to be worked, and paid for, are flexible.” – Read more about Time and Materials Contracts here –(

6. What will the payment schedule be like? YOU SHOULD NEVER PAY THE ENTIRE AMOUNT UP FRONT! Never pay for the work in its entirety prior to completion or inspections of the job. You should establish a payment plan with your contractor that works for both of you, make sure to get it in writing.

7. Can you provide a list of references I can contact? Cheryl Reed, director of Angie’s List, says, “Past performance is a great indicator of what future performance will be.” – We agree. Make sure to call up the references your contractor provides you and ask the necessary questions, such as “How well did the contractor communicate? Were they respectful of your property? How was their team? Were you able to fully trust them? Was your job kept on schedule and/or budget?

8. Will there be a dedicated team hired to work on this job? Find out if there will be a dedicated team hired to work on your job Ask the necessary questions associated with this main question, including “Will the same team be working on my home each day?”, “Who is the project manager, and what specifically will he/she oversee each day?”, “Do you work with subcontractors? If so, what have you done to properly qualify them and are they covered by your liability and workers compensation?”, “How often will the business owner check in on the progress of the project?” and “How will you clean up at the end of each day?”

9. Is there a warranty on all of the materials you are using? Your general contractor should provide you with their warranty IN WRITING! NEVER accept verbal agreements when it comes to warranties. Make sure their warranty list is clear and detailed.

10. How many projects do you have going on right now? This is a great way to make sure your contractor will be able to be attentive and responsive to your needs. You probably want to make sure they will not put your project on the back burner to handle other “more important” projects.

Have anything you want to add? Leave your comments in the comment section below.

CMS of Beaufort offers the proactive solutions you need to cost-effectively take your construction project from start to finish. Our years of hands-on construction experience, combined with decades of success as a construction management provider, enables clients to not only streamline their construction projects … but ensure that construction is being managed properly throughout all project stages.

We are your partners and advocates in the contracting/building process; Call us today to learn more: 843-707-1721