Finding the right construction company to build your house is not an easy task. In fact, selecting a builder is a time-consuming process as you have to a lot of things you need to take into consideration. However, if you know the right questions to ask before hiring a contractor, you can streamline your search and make things much simpler for yourself.
So, if you are planning to build a house but aren’t sure what to look for when hiring a contractor, we’ve compiled a list of questions that might come in handy.
Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Contractor
If you’re wondering what questions you should ask a building contractor, here are a few crucial points that you, as a property owner, must discuss before signing an agreement and working on the project.
- “How long have you been in this business?”
- “What were some of your previous projects and can you provide references?”
- “Are you qualified for the job and if you have proper licensing?”
- “What materials will be used in the construction and who will buy them?”
- “Can you give an estimated deadline?”
- “Will you be present on the site? If not, who will be the supervisor?”
- “Who will obtain the relevant permits and NOCs?”
- “What is the payment schedule?”
- “What happens if the cost of construction material increases?”
- “What safety measures will you put in place?”
Since you’ll probably be seeing your contractor more than anyone else until your house is finished, it’s important to eliminate any room for potential disagreements.
So, without further ado, let’s discuss each of these questions and the ideal response you want to hear from a prospective contractor.
“How long have you been in this business?”
This is one of the first and possibly the most basic questions to ask before hiring a contractor.
If you’re trusting someone to construct your house, you should at least know how long they have been in the industry. Even if the construction company you are planning to hire is relatively new, make sure to inquire about the business owner’s overall experience.
Ideally, you would want to work with a contractor who has a proven track record. It’s always better to hire someone who has been in the construction business for at least a few years and is well-aware of new trends and techniques.
“What were some of your previous projects and can you provide references?”
Do not shy away from asking your prospective contractor about their past projects. Whether you are building a small house or a multi-story building, this is one of the most crucial questions to ask before hiring a contractor.
Even if your contractor possesses years’ worth of experience, it does not mean the services they provide would up to par well. Therefore, if possible, ask the builder if you can take a look at some of their recent projects. In case that is not an option, see if the contractor can you provide a list of references.
It’s a good sign if a contractor seems willing to provide you with contact details of his previous clients. However, make sure to go the extra mile and call at least a few of those people. Ask them if they liked working with your potential builder and if they are satisfied with the quality of work and the end product.
“Are you qualified for the job and do you have proper licensing?”
When it comes to questions to ask contractors when building a house, a lot of people don’t ask if the construction company they are planning to hire is even registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) and Pakistan Engineering Council (PEC).
More often than not, small contractors and builders don’t have appropriate licensing, which makes this question a little tricky. But, since constructing a house is a huge investment in itself, it’s recommended to choose a construction firm that is duly registered with the concerned authorities. You should also ask a prospective contractor is he or his firm belong to a professional organization.
Another factor to consider here is the qualification of the contractor himself. Ideally, you would want to hire someone who has a background in engineering to take on your project.
“What materials will be used in the construction and who will buy them?”
If you want to avoid any potential arguments or delays in the future, this is one of the most imperative questions to ask contractors when building a house.
Contractors usually purchase building materials in bulk at a wholesale price. Therefore, you may be able to save some money by asking your builder to buy the material. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be in the loop. In fact, before agreeing to hire a contractor, ask them what materials they will be using. This will give you a fair idea of the quality of the products. Moreover, ensure the costs related to the collection of materials are included in the quoted price.
You should also inquire about the quantity of material that will be used to get an estimate of the total cost. If any of the products come with a manufacturer’s warranty, make sure to request a copy of each warranty card. It will help you know exactly what the offer covers and how long it would remain in effect.
“Can you give an estimated deadline?”
Inquiring about the completion timeline is one of the top questions to ask before hiring a contractor.
It’s important for homeowners to have a clear picture of when their project will be completed. Even if your prospective contractor gives you an estimated deadline for the project completion, ask them if they are likely to make any changes to the timeline. Moreover, don’t forget to ask how the contractor would address potential delays.
Since we have all heard of contractors failing to deliver the end product despite setting multiple deadlines, it’s highly recommended to inquire about their plan of action in case of such delays so that you don’t end up paying more than what you initially agreed upon.
“Will you be present on the site? If not, who will be the supervisor?”
Contractors are usually the face of their company. This means they are rarely present on-site, especially if they are involved in more than one project at a time. Yet another question to ask a contractor before hiring is how often they’ll visit the construction site and who will supervise the project.
Before you hire a contractor to build a home, you need to know if you’ll be able to contact them once their team starts working on your project. You should also ask if they would personally deal with any issues that might arise later. If possible, schedule a meeting if the person who would be supervising the construction.
“Who will obtain the relevant permits and NOCs?”
Obtaining relevant permits and NOCs are a big part of any construction project. So, one of the most crucial questions to ask a contractor before building a house is if they obtain the required permits themselves or expect you to do so. While your prospective builder must know what kind of NOCs and permits you might require, you also need to do your homework and be aware of what you need. It will also give you a clear picture of whether they know about certain building requirements.
In an ideal scenario, your constructor should not only guide you about the permitting process but also be able to pull such permits for you.
“What is the payment schedule?”
Payment schedule for construction jobs varies with companies, but homeowners should never pay the entire amount upfront.
Although builders, especially the reputable ones, never ask their clients to pay the amount at once, inquiring about payment schedule is one of the most important questions to ask before hiring a contractor.
Depending on your situation, you may choose the payment method that works best for you. Generally, people pay about 10 percent of the total amount at the beginning. The rest is paid gradually in instalments. However, do not make the complete payment unless you are satisfied with the work.
It’s always better to discuss this with house building contractors before hiring them for the job.
“What happens if the cost of construction material increases?”
As a homeowner, you should make sure your contract protects you from bearing the brunt of material price increases. Generally, construction companies add a separate clause in their agreement addressing the issue. They usually ask clients if they can increase their contract price in case of a rapid price increase or if they can altogether terminate the contract if either of the parties is unable to afford the material. Similarly, if the prices of building materials increase well after everything was approved by the homeowner, the contractor may be liable to pay the extra charges as they could have purchased it earlier at a reasonable rate.
Although this part comes much later, you shouldn’t shy away from asking this question before hiring a contractor to build a house.
“What safety measures will you put in place?”
Yet another important question to ask before hiring a contractor is what safety measures they will put in place while constructing your house. Along with ensuring a hazard-free zone for the labour force working on the project, you also need to make sure if your prospective contractor will pay special attention to things such as fire escapes and adequate wiring to prevent electrical fires etc.
Most of these issues should be addressed by the architect. But, it’s important to know if the contractor you’re planning to hire will also keep these things in mind.
If you’re satisfied with all of their answers, ask them if they would be willing to put it down in writing. Once they’ve drawn a contract, read it thoroughly and ask for clarifications if needed. Only sign the agreement and make the first payment if you’re completely satisfied with everything.
You can also check out our list of the most common construction site risks to ensure the safety of labourers building your home. Moreover, if you’re worried that your lack of experience in the construction industry might cost you a pretty penny, take a look at some of the most common mistakes you need to avoid while building a house.
If you want to learn more about construction costs and bylaws in different cities, stay tuned to Zameen Blog, the best real estate and lifestyle blog in Pakistan. You can also send us your queries at firstname.lastname@example.org.