7 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a General Contractor

Prior to beginning the design process for your new home, you must decide on a general contractor to manage the construction from start to finish. In order to ensure the smoothest possible home build, there are a number of things to verify and agree upon during the vetting process.

Since the scope and complexity of building your new home will bring forth many questions, it’s important to take the time to properly vet all potential contractors and develop trust, they are going to be building more than just a house, it will eventually be a home, gathering place, and sanctuary for you and your family. It will be a place where memories are made and life is enjoyed.

What to Ask Before Hiring a General Contractor

1. Verify License and Insurance

All contractors being vetted should have the appropriate state and local licenses, as well as a minimum of general liability and workers compensation insurance for employees. The best way to verify this is to request copies of license and insurance documents. Expiration and current standing can be verified by contacting the issuing authorities printed on the documents.
In the state of Florida, all general contractors are required to have a valid, state-issued license as well as general liability insurance to cover any costs incurred from damage to the home caused by the contractor, contractor’s employees, or subcontractors.

Workers compensation insurance protects you and your assets in the case something were to happen to someone doing work on your property. Employees of your prospective contractor must be covered, and subcontractors must provide coverage for their employees if not included in the general contractor’s insurance policy.

2. Inquire About Recent Building Permits in Your County

Ask whether the contractor has done recent work in your municipal jurisdiction and be certain that they are familiar with current local building code and permitting processes. The last thing you want to have to face is stopping your home build due to delays in obtaining the required permits. Another reason to inquire about familiarity with your local area is to deduce their confidence level and experience with high-value construction projects and sourcing rare or premium materials.

This is especially important if you are rebuilding a home that was destroyed or severely damaged in a natural disaster. Local building codes and requirements may be strict and municipalities are likely to update regulations for new construction. You want a contractor that has experience developing finely detailed, custom designed, luxury homes that comply with all local code and safety requirements.

With over a decade of working in the South Florida area, RWB Construction Management is able to not only provide the experience, but the knowledge needed to ensure all regulations and codes are adhered to.

3. Ask if They Can Help With Mitigation Techniques

Mitigation techniques are essential add-ins to home design plans that are put in place to help eliminate or reduce structural and exterior damage caused by hurricanes and other natural disasters. These essential and often required construction techniques are much easier to build into a structure if implemented during the planning phase of development and will provide you with peace of mind when hurricane season rolls in.

Our team has extensive experience in building custom homes using both concrete block and engineered wood construction. Both forms can withstand category 3 hurricane winds, but concrete block construction is the most common for homes undergoing construction in South Florida.

Additionally, we understand and ensure that your new home is built to withstand winds of up to 120MPH, provide long-term defense against mold and mildew that can easily take hold in the tropical Florida climate, and include a drainage system in place to minimize flooding risk and reduce stagnant water build up.

4. Request Previous Client Referrals

Any reputable contractor will be able to easily produce four to five references from previous clients. These should be for home builds that are similar in size and scope to the project you are planning. Constructing a custom designed, luxury home is vastly different from a standard build and your general contractor must have the knowledge and experience to provide not only that type of high-quality work but the level of service you expect throughout the construction process.

Ask contractor references questions regarding their satisfaction with the completed work and whether the project was completed in a timely manner and on budget. Find out if they would hire the contractor for future projects. If they give negative feedback, ask for more details as to what the issue was or why they had a negative experience.

RWB Construction Management is always happy to provide these references to ensure that our construction management team is the right fit for you.

5. Discuss Subcontractors and Construction Management

Find out if your contractor will be working with subcontractors as well as which portions of the project they will be completing. If subcontractors are hired, you should request their contact info so that you may verify they have all required licenses, permits, and insurance coverage.

Once those details have been settled, you need to know who will be overseeing your home build. The construction manager is your point of contact throughout the build and is responsible for ensuring that all work is done as agreed to in your contract.

With our team of highly-trained professionals, you receive end-to-end construction management. Learn more about our management process here.

6. Clarify Who Will Obtain Permits and Schedule Inspections

An important role in construction management is organizing permits and inspections. Make certain that your prospective contractor will be responsible for obtaining all required building permits and scheduling necessary inspections throughout development. Doing this offers assurance that your home will be built to code and that your contractor is appropriately licensed for the job. If a prospective contractor requests that you obtain any required permits, it should be taken as a red flag.

However, by choosing to work with us, you can rest easy knowing we take care of all permits and inspections for you.

7. Confirm a Payment Schedule, Written Warranty, and Lien Waiver

Prior to making any deposits, there must be an established and agreed upon schedule of payments, and a breakdown of expected costs. During the construction process, there may be unforeseen circumstances and events that may affect the original estimate, hence the importance of establishing budgetary guidelines. Be clear with prospective contractors regarding how much you are prepared to spend and where you draw the line with over budget flexibility.

This is also the time to discuss a written warranty for your construction project; the standard is one to two years but may vary. Be sure to clarify any and all warranties in writing, specifying what is covered, what is excluded, and duration of coverage. Warranties are your protection against defective materials or workmanship once your home is complete and should not be overlooked.

The last item for you to confirm is the lien waiver. It should be agreed, in writing, that upon completion of your new home and once the final scheduled payment has been made, the contractor will prepare for you a written lien waiver that revokes the right of the general and subcontractors to place a lien on your property. It is a legal document and verifies that you paid the general contractor and subcontractors in full and are released from any further financial obligations to the general contractor or subcontractors.

When it comes to choosing a general contractor, it truly is imperative that you conduct your due diligence. At RWB Construction Management, we always want to remain transparent and exceed your expectations. With over a decade of building luxury estate homes in South Florida, you can rest easy knowing you have an experienced and professional team bringing your new home to fruition.

Have questions? Give us a call at 561.270.1808