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Question DetailsAsked on 3/24/2013

What questions should I be asking a general contractor before hiring him for a major home renovation?

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3 Answers


This is a scary question. If you do not know the answer to this question, will you be able to answer the contractor's questions during the project?

The answer depends on too many variables. First; what is your expereince in construction? Do you have a set of plans your contractor will be working from? How good (accurate and detailed) are they?

The word "Major" means you are not talking about fixing up a few areas. Will the building be vacant during the work, (will you be moving out during the work); who will be supervising the site?, etc. What kind of insurance does the G.C. have to protect your home during construction (not just from his work, but weather and vandals, etc).

If you are working with a licensed architect, use them to to help you interview the G.C. If you are not, consider hiring one to ensure communication of what you want and what the G.C. is going to do is clear.

You also need to consider how you are going to protect your payments and building from liens. You will want to consider lien releases for all sub-contractors so you won't have someone come to you after the project and request payments, etc. How do you plan to handle disagreements or problems during construction?

The general answer to your question is to find out how many jobs of the same scope they have performed recently, and how much of it was done by that G.C. and what percent was done by subs. Find out if they will be using the same subs, and make sure the G.C. you are talking with is the one who will actually be doing the work (often the "sales" guy makes the contract, and then the guy running the project is someone different who may or may not have been told everything you told the sales guy (and even more often it is several different people depending on who is available each day!)).

You will want to check with the local building official to see if they have had any problems working with your G.C., as well as the BBB. (of course check to see if they are Angie's List!) Find out from the G.C. how many change orders they typically have and how close they come to budget on the last jobs of similar size & scope. You should go see their work; preferrably something within the last few months and something over a year ago. Don't be shy, speak with the people and find out what they liked and didn't like about working with the G.C.

If this is a major project you will be living with this G.C. for some time and trusting him/her with a lot of your funds and future investment return. This is not something done lightly or without experience. Get a licensed architect to help oversee your project to have peace-of-mind and clear communication with your G.C. Look at the questions and problems posted on Angie's List to get an idea of some of the problems people have faced and decide how prepared you are before moving forward.

If you do decide to go it without professional help, start a log of every conversation and decision made. Write down every phone call (when, what was the topic), every Txt, every in-person conversation, etc. Take photos of before any work and every few days to document what has been done, etc. Do not let your payments get ahead of the work and insist that any changes to your contract be done in writing - no verbal! It is too often to have the contractor say "I told you I had to move that counter out a bit and you said "OK"." And now you have a $500 change order because the door doesn't fit anymore. . .

Good luck!


Answered 7 years ago by Kenny Johnson


It depends on what you mean by "Major". Are you going to pay $100,000 to $250,000 for this remodel? If so, please consider hiring a reputable and highly experienced kitchen designer to watch over you during all phases of the remodel. Have him draw up the RFP you will be using and be there to guide the interview of applicant contractors. If contractors ask questions during the project that are difficult to decide, refer them to the designer. Also have him/her visit the site during pre-designated way points in the project. You will be glad you did this.

Answered 6 years ago by Guest_9638818


Whatever the budget, there's a series of questions you really should be asking a contractor.


Answered 5 years ago by thomasj92

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