Questions to Ask Your General Contractor: The Who, What, When and Where of Construction Projects
You’ve chosen a general contractor, now what? Just because you’ve signed on the dotted line, doesn’t mean that you should sit back and relax. A construction project should be a partnership between the business owner and the contractor (and the landlord, if applicable). A good general contractor will welcome the continued dialogue. Here are some questions to ask your contractor to better understand their process and give you peace of mind about your project.
Who is My Point of Contact?
In most cases you will work with someone in the Pre-Construction department to do a walk through, get a bid, and sign the contract for your project. Once the pre-construction phase is complete, your point of contact will most likely switch over to the Project Manager. It’s important to ask who your point of contact will be moving forward. Will the Project Manager be on the job site or is there someone else who you should be in touch with on site?
Who Handles Permitting and Inspections?
Your contractor should be able to educate you on the permits for your specific job and pull them as needed. Additionally, if your project requires inspection at any point, it’s important to know if you handle the scheduling or if the contractor will take care of it. Regardless of who schedules the inspection, it is beneficial for you to be present.
Who Has Access to the Job Site?
You are making a big investment in this property, it’s important to keep it secure. Many different people play vital roles in completing a construction project. It’s important to connect with your contractor to understand who has access to your property. Don’t forget to ask to be notified if access changes hands throughout the project.
What Does Your Crew’s Workday Look LIke?
After you learn who has access to the job site, It’s important to ask about the construction team’s schedule. When do they plan to start their day and what time will they be wrapping up? Will they be there on the weekends?
If you are staying open for business during the project or your location neighbors other businesses, it is important to know what the noise level may be like, what areas they will be working on at specific times and if you need to be there (or not be there) at any point during the project.
Pro Tip! Ask how the construction team will clean up at the end of day. This is especially helpful if you plan to stay open for business or will be using the space throughout the construction project. Plus, it’s nice to know that the company you are working with runs a tight ship.
What’s the Payment Schedule?
The payment schedule should be discussed during pre-construction and in most cases is outlined in the contract. Review the terms carefully and solidify dates when payments are due as the project progresses.
Pro Tip! Ask how additional charges will be handled. Although you are given a quote at the beginning of a project, there’s always a risk of an extenuating circumstance causing an unplanned expense. It’s important to be on the same page with your contractor regarding how these expenses are handled, rather than having the conversation after the expense has already been incurred.
When Can I meet the Construction Team?
Once you connect with the Project Manager, ask when you can swing by the site to meet the team. Even if you don’t meet every single person working on the project it is valuable to meet the Project Manager onsite, to get a better understanding of how he or she operates and build a personal connection.
Where Do You Plan to Store Your Construction Equipment?
This question may come up when you ask about the team’s projected schedule and daily clean up routine. If it doesn’t, be sure to ask the Project Manager where equipment will be stored during the project. This is especially important for safety reasons if you plan to continue accessing the space during the construction phase or will remain open for business. If there is larger equipment needed that may disrupt the regular flow of traffic or parking, be sure to inform neighboring businesses ahead of time.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of the questions that you should ask your general contractor. The most important thing is to start a conversation and encourage open dialogue throughout the entire project.