Qualifying your contractor. Why credentials and good reviews are not enough.

Chances are you have talked to several contractors, and they all have the right answers. They are insured and bonded and they have been in the business for a while. They even gave you a list of referrals.

So, they are qualified, now what?

There is a question that we ask potential clients, “Have you ever had a bad experience with a contractor before?” The answer is all too often “YES.” And is not because the client did not do their research. But being licensed and having a few good reviews is not enough. Any remodel is an involved process, and in the case of a major remodel or addition, you will be working closely with us for 6 months to a year. It is paramount to the team at Gannage Design & Construction that we establish a good relationship before we start working together.

Here are some questions you should ask of any potential contractor.

1. HOW MANY PROJECTS DO YOU RUN AT ONE TIME?

There is no wrong answer to this question, but it should reveal to you the size of the operation you are engaging with and let you know how much time that contractor may be able to devote to you and your project.

Gannage Design & Construction runs 3-6 projects at one time depending on the size of the projects. We keep this number low to ensure that we are able to be available for our clients and their projects. It is important to us to provide a building experience that a client would want to go through again. 

2. HOW OFTEN WILL YOU BE HERE?

A Project Manager should be at your project no less than every other day. The General Contractor should be willing to show up at least once a week to keep tabs on the progress and make sure everything is going as planned.

Mikhail is on larger jobs every other day at a minimum. Sometimes on smaller jobs, he only has to be there once a week. We generally do not take on jobs that are farther than 30 minutes from our office so in case of an emergency he can be there in 30 minutes. 

3. WHO IS YOUR ON-SITE PROJECT MANAGER? WHAT EXPERIENCE DOES HE HAVE?

Just because your General Contractor has been in business a long time doesn’t mean that his Project Manager has been. Clarifying this can prevent a lot of heartache down the road. You can even ask to go visit the Project Manager on a current job if that is applicable.

Mikhail is the owner, general contractor and the project manager. This is important because there is no loss of design intent. Mikhail is involved at every stage of your project and makes sure that what you want happens.

4. WILL YOU PROVIDE ME DAILY UPDATES? HOW DOES THAT HAPPEN?

Ultimately you want a contractor who is set up and willing to do so. If you decide you only want weekly updates, that is fine, but there is nothing worse than being left in the dark about where your project is.

Co-Construct makes communication between client, contractor and sub-trades clear and efficient. You will receive updates daily or weekly, based on your selection within the software. You will also have access to job photos, schedule updates and payment postings within your mobile app.

5. DOES YOUR CONTRACT INCLUDE A DETAILED SCOPE OF WORK?

A contractor can promise you the moon, but when it comes to delivery, you might be shocked to find out not everything was included. For both parties’ sakes, a detailed scope of work that includes everything from your floorplan to paint color and faucet selections should be accounted for. At the end, there should be a Fixed Cost to provide the listed scope of work.

Gannage Design & Construction contracts are very detailed. They include payment schedules, detail scope of work, fixture product details, appliance specifications, tile drawings and any other pertinent details for your job. 

6. WILL MY PROJECT REQUIRE PERMITS?

Anytime electrical, plumbing or the structure is affected a permit will be required. If your contractor is not prepared to obtain the necessary permits from the Building Department, what other corners might they be cutting?

Mikhail and I have good working relationships with all the building departments in the county. We pull permits regularly and are aware of what the different cities and county building departments require for specific projects. This is an invaluable asset when dealing with complicated permit processes. 

7. DO YOU WARRANTY YOUR WORK? FOR HOW LONG?

The answer here should be a resounding YES. 6 months should be the bare minimum, but there is no industry standard or laws guiding this practice. Make sure the warranty period is spelled out in your contract so you know what exactly is and is not covered.

Gannage Design & Construction warranties all work and fixtures supplied by us through our Fixed Fee Home Improvement contract for 12 months after the completion of your building project. Most appliances will have an additional warranty.

Reminder: Never hire a contractor who is not licensed, bonded and insured.

ALWAYS CALL REFERENCES! ASK:

  1. Where you Satisfied?
  2. Did your project have any cost increases due to the contractor?
  3. How did they handle any issues that may have come up?
  4. Ask about what you are most concerned about (cleanliness, noise, invoicing, whatever it may be).

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