Thorough research and asking the right questions will make all the difference while hunting for the right home contractor. You will want to take the time to get to know your contractor before signing any agreements to save yourself from any potential headaches or heartbreak later down the road. We have compiled some of the most frequently asked questions our clients give us during our initial consultation to help you learn more about your potential construction partner.

Complete List of Questions to Ask Your
Outer Banks Home Contractor Before Hiring

By seeking answers to these questions, you can assess the contractor’s credentials and experience to see if they will be a good fit for your project and under their processes for planning and adhering to project timelines, budgets, and design plans. 

Questions About The Construction Company

There are plenty of factors to consider when evaluating a construction company. Asking the right questions can help you weed out unprofessional contractors and identify any red flags on the horizon.

The following questions delve into the credentials, experience, and references available to your prospective contractor, so you can make an informed decision and separate reputable businesses from unreliable ones.

How Long Have They Been in the Construction Industry?

Experience matters in the construction industry! Before you pick a home contractor you will want to gauge their expertise and reliability. A contractor with extensive years of experience in the construction industry has demonstrated the knowledge and applied the skills that will handle your project successfully. 

Do you have Proof of Contractor’s License and Insurance?

When you hire a contractor you ultimately want to protect yourself and your property.

You should always ensure the contractor you work with is able to protect you from any liabilities or accidental damages that may occur during construction.  By requesting proof of license and insurance, you can ensure that the contractor is operating legally and has the necessary coverage to handle any unexpected situations during the project. 

It is a huge red flag for a contractor to hesitate or deny giving you any documentation of their qualifications and necessary coverage. You will have more peace of mind working with a contractor who gives you the necessary documentation that demonstrates their commitment to professionalism and safety.

Do You Regularly Work with Subcontractors and Suppliers? 

Seasoned home contractors know that you can not do everything alone. Working with subcontractors and suppliers is a common practice in the construction industry.

Contractors often have established relationships with suppliers, subcontractors, and other building professionals to handle specific trades or tasks, such as plumbing, electrical work, or HVAC installations. By working with subcontractors, the contractor can ensure that each aspect of the project is handled by highly skilled professionals. 

These trusted connections can provide you insight into the contractor’s valuable network and their ability to leverage relationships to the benefit of your project. Just make sure to ask if all subcontractors used are licensed and insured as well.

Questions About the Construction Timeline

The following questions will help you to understand your contractor’s ability to adhere to deadlines and respect your time. By asking the right questions, you can assess your contractor team’s ability to manage and meet construction timelines effectively. 

Here are just a few questions to measure your contractor’s respect and time management skills. 

How Do You Handle Meeting Project Deadlines? 

You can get insight into your contractor’s approach to scheduling by asking how your contractor stays on track with project deadlines. Our team uses strategic processes and systems to ensure our construction projects stay on track. 

Our team prioritizes meeting project deadlines through strategic processes and systems. We understand the importance of adhering to timelines and ensuring a smooth-running design and building process. We begin by setting a detailed project timeline that includes key milestone dates for completion.

Will You Provide a Project Schedule Breakdown? 

A responsible home contractor understands the importance of transparent and clear communication throughout the entire construction process. Reliable contractors will provide a detailed project schedule breakdown including milestones and essential deadlines for the project. 

You should receive an outline of each stage of the project with specific dates and timeframes to meet each goal. Strategic planning allows the homeowner to completely understand the project’s progress and stay on track of objectives in an organized manner. 

Can You Estimate How Soon You Can Start Construction? 

You may be eager to get started on your new home construction or renovation project, but it is important to be aware of factors that may impact your contractor’s availability. By asking the contractor how soon they can start construction you can consider the various factors such as our current workload, availability of resources, seasonal fluctuations, or existing commitments.

To give you a more accurate estimate, your contractor will need to assess the specifics of your project, review their current schedule, and consider any potential external factors that may influence the start date. By doing so, we can provide you with a realistic estimate of how soon they can begin construction on your new home.

How Long Do You Think Construction Will Take to Complete?

Once you have a start date suggestion, you can ask your contractor to help you determine the duration of a construction project. How construction project duration relies on several factors, including the scope of work and complexity. 

An experienced contractor will carefully evaluate timeline factors to provide you with an estimated length of time for project completion. Each construction project is unique and the timeframe can vary. However, your contractor should be able to provide a realistic time estimate that prioritizes efficiency without sacrificing craftsmanship.

How Do You Handle Unexpected Delays and Disruptions to the Project Timeline?

There will always be unexpected delays such as weather conditions or material sourcing that may impact your project timeline. A responsible home contractor anticipates those problems and adapts to create a flexible plan that mitigates the situation. 

Good contractors have contingency plans with alternative approaches or backup resources to quickly adjust to unanticipated issues. When unforeseen circumstances arise we let our clients, subcontractors, and suppliers know. 

This collaborative solution keeps communication open to keep your project on track as much as possible. Your team should work diligently to identify the root cause of unexpected issues and develop a plan that limits the impact of challenges on the project timeline.

Questions About the Construction Budget

A crucial aspect of any construction project is the budget. To ensure transparency and clarity, you will want to ask your contractor the right questions about your project’s financial aspects. 

Asking questions about your specific construction budget will help you have a clear understanding of the estimated costs and the payment terms for your contractor. Budget details like this will enable you to make informed decisions and ensure your project progresses smoothly without any unexpected financial surprises.

Can You Provide a Detailed Estimate for the Project, including Labor and Material Costs?

A detailed estimate from the contractor is essential for understanding the financial obligations you will have for your project. Asking for a breakdown of labor and material costs can help you understand how the budget is allocated. 

To get an accurate estimate be sure to discuss specific project requirements with your contractor. Any changes to your plan could increase the total cost of your estimate. Once you have your estimated budget from the contractor you can assess any financial constraints and adjust to meet your expectations. 

What Payment Schedule Will You Follow? Do you require an upfront deposit?

The payment schedule your contractor follows will vary depending on the business, that is why it is important to ask your contractor about their preferences upfront. 

Sometimes contractors will require an initial deposit to get started. Others may charge a percentage of the total cost each month or at specific project milestones.

Are There Any Hidden Construction Expenses we should be aware of? 

Experienced contractors can easily identify common problems and areas of concern that may impact your project’s budget. By inquiring about potential cost risks and hidden expenses that may arise during construction you can anticipate how your contractor can assess cost-related issues and plan for challenges that may impact your total project spend, so you can make better decisions!

Will you Help Us Explore Cost-Saving Options? 

A reputable contractor should be able to help you save money without sacrificing quality construction. Asking about cost-saving options will show your home contractor that you value efficiency and want to make the most out of your budget. 

Your contractor can help you achieve desired results with optimized costs. There are plenty of creative solutions out there that can help you meet your project demands while remaining in budget. 

Questions About Project Planning and Design

Not all contractors are gifted in design. You can ask the right questions about project planning and design to assess your contractor’s architectural expertise.

The below questions will help you find a contractor that can help you with both important construction processes.

Do you have an in-house design team, or do you work with external architects and designers?

Different contractors have different approaches to design. Understanding your contractor’s design-build approach and capabilities can help you envision the overall impact of quality and design aesthetics for your projects. 

As a design-build construction company, we offer an in-house design team that handles all aspects of project creation, while other contractors may collaborate with external architects and designers to bring your ideas to life. 

Ultimately, the decision to choose an in-house designer or a contractor who outsources professionals depends on your specific project requirements, preferences, and the level of control and integration you desire. It is essential to ask your contractor about their design approach to determine which option best aligns with your project goals and vision.

Will you provide detailed design drawings and specifications for the project?

Drawings can minimize potential errors and miscommunications so all parties have a clear understanding of what the project entails. Design drawings and specifications are often included in residential new construction projects depending on the overall scope and budget. 

If your project is complex your contractor may require detailed layouts of architectural plans, structural details, and material selections. If you are wondering design drawings are important for you, ask your contractor! A quality home contractor should be able to provide you with drawings or put you in contact with someone who can. 

Can You Provide Any References, Testimonials, or Reviews from Past Clients?

If you haven’t checked out your contractor’s portfolio yet, now is the time to! Specifically, ask about the contractor’s experience with projects similar to yours and their track record for handling projects of this type. 

When your contractor can show you proof of their understanding and has specific experience similar to your project’s size and complexity, you will have much more confidence moving forward on your decision. 

Can you suggest any design modifications or improvements based on your experience?

Knowledgeable contractors will provide any suggestions they can if they know their ideas will enhance your project’s overall design and functionality. Ask your contractor if they can recommend any modifications that would optimize your space.

If your contractor has worked on a similar project before they will fully understand what worked and what didn’t work in the past and provide improvements based on their past experience. 

Are you familiar with specific site conditions and environmental challenges that come with oceanfront construction? 

If your project involves building complexities such as oceanfront construction, working with a contractor who is familiar with environmental challenges and site conditions will be essential for the success and longevity of your project. You should question your contractor about their experience understanding coastal construction regulations, erosion control, and saltwater intrusion

Regardless of where your project is constructed, you should ensure your contractor knows how to build specifically under the unique conditions of your location. Whether it’s oceanfront construction, mountainous terrain, or another hazardous location, a contractor who is knowledgeable about specific requirements will be better equipped to plan and execute the project.

Questions About Construction Project Management

Effective project management is the key to success for any construction project. You will want to ask your home contractor questions about their project management skills to help you assess their ability to handle the various aspects of the tasks at hand.

By asking these questions about construction project management, you can gain insights into the contractor’s ability to manage their workload and make an informed decision on a contractor who can implement your construction project from start to finish.

Who Will I Communicate with Throughout the Project? 

We have already established clear communication is key to any successful construction project. Do you know how your contractor plans to communicate with you after the project has started? 

Let your contractor know about your preferred methods of communication. Ask if they can accommodate your schedule and preferences. A quality contractor recognizes the importance of prioritizing communication with you whether it be through phone calls, emails, video conferencing, or in-person meetings.

A quality construction company or contractor will assign you a dedicated point of contact. You should have a designated person to address your questions and provide project updates. Your project manager should be able to give you peace of mind throughout the construction process and keep you involved in the project every step of the way. 

Effective communication is a two-way street. Your contractor should be attentive to your communication needs to foster a stronger, more collaborative working relationship

Will You Handle All Required Permits and Approvals for Construction? 

Permits and approvals are a critical step in the construction process. You will need to know who takes on the responsibility for gathering all the necessary paperwork. 

A good home contractor will have experience navigating permitting requirements and is knowledgeable about local regulations. You want a proactive home contractor who does everything necessary to obtain legal permits and ensure your project proceeds in compliance with the law. 

What is Your Change Order Process Like?

Understanding how your contractor manages project changes is incredibly important. During a construction project, your mind might change a few things or find additional projects to add to the mix. 

You will want to question your contractor’s change order process, including how they document and communicate cost adjustments, modify the project timeline, and impact other project scopes. A contractor should ensure that all changes are properly addressed to prevent misunderstandings and unexpected costs. 

Your contractor should let you know what is involved with your change including additional materials and labor. Once you agree to the proposed changes, your contractor should require you to sign off on a change order document that authorizes your modification request. 

How Do You Ensure the Safety of Your Workers and the Job Site?

Safety is paramount for any construction project and any contractor knows to never put their worker’s lives at risk. While the construction company’s liability insurance will protect the homeowner, nobody ever wants anything bad to happen during their project. 

That is why you should ask your contractor about their safety protocols to understand what measures they take to protect their team and the job site. Good contractors will always prioritize safety and implement protective practices that adhere to industry rules and regulations. 

How Many Projects Do You Typically Handle?

If you want an efficient project you will want to understand the contractor’s workload capacity. You can assess your contractor’s availability and ability to dedicate attention to you by asking the number of projects they typically handle. 

A busy contractor may appear to be a good sign at first, but what if they are spread too thin? A contractor that allocates their resources with a project management system should be able to efficiently handle multiple projects without overlooking important details.

Get to Know Your Contractor Before You Sign

When you get to know your contractor transparency and communication should be detrimental to your selection process. A reputable contractor will be more than willing to provide any necessary information and address any concerns you may have. 

Take the time to discuss your expectations and clarify any concerns before signing any agreements. Pay attention to your prospective contractor’s responses. They will reveal their professionalism and commitment to delivering a high-quality construction project with their answers.

By making an informed decision you will align yourself with a contractor that creates a solid foundation for a successful partnership and satisfactory outcome for your construction project.