10 Questions to Ask a General Contractor


When you hire a general contractor for your home renovation, you are hiring a professional and knowledgeable project manager. A reputable contractor will help you with all aspects of your home renovation, from the design process to construction through completion. They will take care of ordering and installing materials, managing and scheduling trades that will work on your project and making sure your renovation follows both your budget and timeline. Learn how to hire a contractor.

We’ve all heard stories about bad contractors that have taken advantage of home owners. Total Renovations in Vancouver suggests you ask any potential contractor these 10 questions before hiring them for the job:

1. How long have you been in business?

When you first start researching general contractors in Vancouver, you’ll want to get a good sense of their business history. A reputable contractor should have several major projects under their belt.

2. Do you have a business license?

You would be surprised how many ‘renovators’ operate without a legal business license. You have the legal right as a homeowner to ask to see a physical license. A license means that contractor is legally allowed to conduct their business and that they are more familiar with building code requirements.

3. Do you have insurance?

A reputable general contractor will have valid insurance. Some contractors choose to obtain insurance on a job-to-job basis. If they don’t have insurance and tell you that they don’t need it, do not hire them! If there is an accident during the project, you will be responsible for any damages or injury. That means you will have to pay if something gets damaged and that if someone gets hurt on your work site, they could file a lawsuit against you.

At this time, you should also ask if they have worker’s compensation board insurance.

4. Can I contact one of or two of your previous clients?

You should always check their references and the best reference will come from a previous customer of theirs. Ask their references about their overall experience working with that general contractor, if they are happy with the finished product and if there were any issues you should know about.

5. Can I see a finished project and/or a project that is currently under construction?

Don’t be shy, get in there and get a first hand look at the work that they have done and are doing. Walking into a construction site mid-renovation can tell you how organized they are, how their trades and workers are treating the home and that they are proud of the work they are doing.

6. What is the renovation process?

This will give the contractor an opportunity to explain the process of your home renovation. They will tell you the order each job will be done and at what stages your input is required.  You should also know if more than one project will be happening at once and what their work routine is like. This leads us to the next question…

7. Who will be working on my renovation?

Some general contractors are full-service renovation companies that have their own trades like gas fitters, plumbers, dry wall installers, electricians and so on. In many cases, a general contractor will sub-contract out some of the work. If that is the case, ask to see a business licence, proof of insurance and some references for the sub-contractors they will be using.

8. Can you give me a timeline?

A professional contractor should be able to give you a fixed start date and completion date that also includes any clean up duties required at the end of the renovation. These dates should be in a formal written contract along with a timetable of all the work that has to be done. You should also find out how change orders will affect the renovation’s timeline.

9. How much will it cost?

Any reputable contractor will work with you to create a renovation plan that fits within your budget. Ask them if they will provide a written quote that includes all the details of the project including materials, products, labour costs and any additional fees that might incur throughout the project.

Not only should you find out the total cost, you need to know if there is a certain payment plan and if a deposit is required upfront. Though they might ask you for a deposit, no contractor will require you to pay for 100 per cent of the renovation upfront.  If they do, walk away.

10. Can I get that in writing?

Like previously mentioned, you should get all of this in writing. Every detail of the project should be carefully spelled out including the timeline, price details, permits required, materials used and the process if you change your mind about something. Don’t sign a contract unless it is complete with all of these details.

General Contractors in Vancouver

Achieve the space of your dreams with complete design and construction services from Total Renovations, general contractors in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland that have served both residential and commercial customers since 1985. They take pride in adding function and appeal to properties of all types. Whether you are looking for a simple modernization or extensive remodeling, Total Renovations has your solution.

Contact Total Renovations today!

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