Thursday, December 11, 2008

Interviewing General Contractors

Once you have narrowed your list to several prospective general contractors for your project, I recommend meeting with each for an hour or so and ask them about their work style and so you can get a general feeling for what they will be like to work with for an extended period of time. Even more so than with you architect, it is very important that you see eye-to-eye with your contractor in a general sense of how things should be done.

Here are some sample questions to ask prospective general contractors:

1) How many jobs do you work on at once?
2) How often are you on site at a major job?
3) Do you have project managers or site supervisors on your staff who manage the project?
4) Have you worked in my county/city in the past 2 years?
5) How do you handle change orders?
6) Do you often work with architects? How do you like to interact with the architect?
7) Do you have an office staff?
8) What is the best way to contact you in the course of the project?
9) How do you handle disagreements with homeowners?
10) Do you work with the same subcontractors for every project?

We met with eight potential contractors before asking them to bid on the project (more on that in my next post). All had great references and the proper state licenses (which you can check online). We met with large firm as well as smaller firms. In 2 cases we knew that we did not want to ask for bids after meeting them. One was a large firm which had an overly extensive design phase which we felt would be an extraneous cost for us. The other just had a different philosophy.

This is a very critical juncture in the project and the decision should be taken seriously.

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