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Finding the right general contractor is key to the success of your project. An architect may draw up a perfect plan on paper, but your contractor is one the responsible for actually putting it all together. When you’ve narrowed your General Contractor candidates down to just a few, here is a list of good questions to ask them before you make your decision:

  1. Are you licensed? How long have you been licensed?
  2. How long have you been in the construction business?
  3. How big is your crew? Are they employees or subcontractors?
  4. Will you, personally, be on the job site every day?
  5. Who is responsible for getting permits?
  6. How long do you estimate the project will take?
  7. What is the best way to get in contact with you? What is your usual response time to phone messages or e-mails?
  8. What professional organizations are you a member of?
  9. Will you provide lien waivers for subcontractors?
  10. When do you think you could start on my project?
  11. How many projects will you be running concurrently?
  12. How many projects similar to mine have you completed in the last year?
  13. Which architects do you usually work with?
  14. Ask about license and insurance after researching their licensing and insurance (for instance, at the Department of Consumer Affairs). Make sure that what the contractor tells you matches up with what you’ve already learned.
  15. What kinds of services do you offer before, during, and after the completion of the project?
  16. How will you handle common issues that arise during construction?
  17. What is your experience working in this particular county or city?
  18. What is your familiarity with the local planning process?
  19. Do you have references/ referrals?
  20. Do you guarantee your work?

As you conduct the interview, ask yourself if you’re finding anything in common with the person you’re speaking to. Do you think you can trust them? Of course, trust isn’t built right away. So give it a little time, but if you’re not feeling a connection in those initial conversations, that should tell you something, too. Trust your gut instincts.

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