Choosing a general contractor to bring your building project to fruition is a very important decision. Though there’s no foolproof way to maneuver through the selection process, you can improve your chances of success by asking these five key questions before hiring a general contractor for your building project.

1. DOES THE CONTRACTOR HAVE PROOF OF LICENSE AND INSURANCE?
Be sure to obtain proof of license and insurance from your contractor—no matter the size of the project.
Contractors who are unlicensed or uninsured put you and your property at significant financial risk. Double check that the licensed name matches the name on the contract and that the contractor’s license number is also listed on the contract. The insurance they carry should also be adequate for the size and risk of your project.

2. IS THE GENERAL CONTRACTOR LOCAL?
Local Contractor – With their years of experience, a local contractor knows the best solutions that can withstand certain problems that usually occur in your community. Compared to out-of-area contractors, local contractors also know the requirements of your municipality or state, so you can expect that they can do their job properly.

3. WHAT IS THE CONTRACTOR’S “CONTRACT DELIVERY METHOD?”
Understanding this fundamental question is crucial to choosing the right general contractor.
The three most prevalent construction contract delivery methods are 1) lump sum or fixed price 2) cost plus and 3) guaranteed max price (GMAX). Make sure you clarify which delivery method your contractor will be using.

WHAT DOES THE CONTRACTOR SEE AS THE MOST SIGNIFICANT CHALLENGES WITH THE PROJECT?
Occasionally, you should throw in a question that will give you valuable information about your project. Asking your contractor about potential challenges will not only reveal how much knowledge they have of the project but will also inform you of potential project hurdles.

Also, find out how the contractor mitigates changes that may impact the project’s cost and schedule during the build. Changes come in a variety of forms; they can be owner changes, unknown or discoverable issues, or drawing errors or omissions. Either way, there should be a clear plan to address each of these challenges.

5. WHAT IS THE CONTRACTOR’S SCHEDULE?
Spend some time discussing how the contractor prepares, follows, and updates the schedule. A mismanaged plan can cost time and a ton of money. Make sure the contractor’s project superintendent develops, monitors, and updates the schedule with assistance and input from the project manager on a regular basis.