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20 Questions to Ask Before You Hire a Contractor


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Hiring a commercial contractor to work on a building project is an important process. In order to find the right company for the job, expect to invest considerable time for planning and research.  

Once you accept a company's bid, remember you will be working with these people for the length of your project, potentially on a daily basis. Make sure you choose a company you're comfortable with, and whose people you can speak to candidly and honestly. For any sizeable project, it's important to maintain an open dialog to keep the project's progress on track. Any commercial construction project is going to be a big investment in company resources and professional time and effort, so keep this consideration top of mind as you conduct your research.

Besides the communication aspect, you're going to need specific, detailed answers related to your particular building project. Below is a checklist of 20 questions to help ensure you're hiring the right company and people tackle your project. Be sure you have satisfactory answers to all of these questions before you hire a commercial contractor.

1. Have you done projects similar to our proposal? 

2. Can you put us in touch with some past clients?

3. What permits will be required for this project?

4. Do you have experience with our local permitting process?

5. Can you provide a detailed timeline for the construction process? 

6. Who are the subcontractors who will be working on this project?

7. Will a project manager always be on site to serve as our point of contact throughout construction?  

8. Is your work warrantied for a certain period? Are there any exclusions to the warranty? 

9. Is your bid an estimate, or a final price?

10. Who pays for cost overruns in labor and materials?

11. Is there a penalty for delays? If so, what causes for delay are covered? 

12. Will the delay penalty cover our actual losses if the project isn’t delivered on time?

13. If our building plans need to be modified, how much do you charge for change orders?

14. How are disputes settled? Is there a mandatory arbitration process? 

15. Who will be serving as the architect or designer on this project? Can we visit some of their previous build outs? 

16. Do you use a preferred vendor for interior fixtures?

17. Will this project disrupt our ongoing operations? 

18. What on-site space and resources will you need to access during construction? 

19. How much liability insurance do you carry? 

20. Is it sufficient to cover the potential damages from an accident at our job site?    

The right building contractor will help you navigate the complex process of your project and will help keep the work moving along according to plan and budget. Learn more about how to hire a contractor

Get more Grainger KnowHow on commercial property management.

The information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only and is based on information available as of the initial date of publication. No representation is made that the information or references are complete or remain current. This article is not a substitute for review of current applicable government regulations, industry standards, or other standards specific to your business and/or activities and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific questions should refer to the applicable standards or consult with an attorney.