If you’re looking for a contractor you can trust, it’s good practice to get quotes from several building companies. But cost isn’t the only factor to consider before hiring a contractor: you also need to know what they are going to be like to work with and what their experience is in your particular sector. To make sure you get the right company for the job, here are 10 questions to ask before hiring a building contractor:
1. What’s your experience working on similar projects?
It’s good to know about any relevant past projects completed by a potential contractor. This can give you confidence in their ability to achieve the results you need, especially if you have specialist requirements such as rail maintenance or church renovation. You can ask for photos of previous jobs, or speak to satisfied clients about what the contractor is like to work with.
2. What is the timescale for this project and can you give an estimated completion time?
You need to know what’s realistic in terms of timescale so that you can work to your own deadlines. Different contractors may give different answers to this question, depending on their workforce and availability. Once you have an idea of the timescale, it’s also a good idea to ask what measures they will take in response to unforeseen delays, to ensure that the project is completed on time.
3. Can you provide a warranty to cover services and materials?
It’s important that the work your contractor is undertaking comes with a guarantee. Don’t settle for verbal confirmation – get your guarantee in writing so you can refer back to it if need be.
4. What accreditation and / or qualifications do you have?
There are no minimum qualifications a contractor must meet to operate as a builder. But the best building contractors will be able to give you a rundown of their credentials. They may also be a member of a trade association such as the Federation of Master Builders. If your job involves working with gas or electricity, your contractor must be gas safe registered or be registered with a Competent Person Scheme such as NICEIC.
5. Are you fully insured to undertake this work?
You need to ensure that your contractor is fully insured. Ask to see their insurance certificates to ensure that they have public liability cover.
6. What Health and Safety measures will you put in place?
A reputable building contractor will be well-versed in health and safety, and will outline the policies and procedures that they follow.
7. Will the work cause any disruption to me or my neighbours?
It’s good to have advance warning of any particularly noisy or messy work so that you can plan around it. Find out how long the disruption is likely to last, and what they will do to mitigate the inconvenience.
8. Will you subcontract any part of this work out to other suppliers?
Many building contractors have trusted companies or tradespeople that they work with. If the plan is to contract some or all of the work out, ask how the quality of the work can be guaranteed, and do some research into the subcontractor too.
9. What happens if I’m not happy with the work?
Perhaps the materials aren’t up to standard, or the finished job doesn’t meet your original specifications. Asking about this upfront can help you to gauge whether your building contractor will be a good fit.
10. How have you resolved any issues with previous unhappy clients?
This may be one of the most insightful questions to ask a general contractor before hiring them. You may have some specific examples you can ask them about, if you’ve found poor reviews on a trade website.