Choosing the right contractor

David Lambert

DSL Property Developers HK

We had a phone call from a potential client and I went out to do a consultation and provide an estimate. The customer decided to go for the cheaper contractor that gave a ball park figure for the full job. Mistake one.

Always obtain a detailed estimate, so you have a clear understanding of what is included and just as important what is not included.

We are going back to the project tomorrow, to fix all the mistake the other contractor did and complete the project. To help you not make the same mistake, read on.

The Questions You Should Ask?

Your choice of a remodeling contractor will ultimately determine the success and enjoyment of your investment.

You can increase your chances of having a successful project by conducting qualifying interviews, considering all aspects of the remodeling project. You need to look for the professional you feel will provide the best all-around service available above and beyond the necessary construction skills.

The following questions will help you establish a company's reputation, and help you find the right person for your job.

How long have you been in business?  Surviving in any business in today's competitive marketplace is a difficult task. Most successful contractors are proud of their history in the industry.

Who will be assigned as project supervisor for the job? Also ask whom you should contact if the supervisor is not available. Get exact names and contact phone numbers for all persons who will be involved in the project.

What is the time frame for starting the project? Now is the time to ask questions about work schedules. You should ask: What is your estimate for completion? How early will your crew normally begin work? When will they normally quit for the day? Will I be contacted about delays or changes in the schedule? By whom? 

How do you operate? In other words, how is your firm organized? Do you have employees or do you hire subcontractors? If you do have employees, what are their job descriptions? Do you use a project supervisor or lead carpenter to oversee the project? Other firms will have additional positions. You should know what parts of your project will be handled by staff, and which will be contracted out to independent contractors.

Is your company a full service or specialty firm? If you are planning a small project, say replacing the bathroom plumbing, you may be better off hiring a specialty plumbing firm or a bathroom remodeler. However, if your project involves multiple changes, entire rooms or additions, you should consult a full service or design-build firm.

Do you have design services available? If you are considering a large or involved project, you will need design services. If the contractor does not have design-build capabilities, you should consider hiring an architect. Depending on the size and scope of the project, you may need an architect or structural engineer.

Does your company carry workers compensation and liability insurance? 

How many projects like mine have you completed in the past 12 months? This will help you determine the contractor's familiarity with your type of project. You should confirm that a good portion of those completed projects were similar to the type of project you are proposing.

Of the many questions you can ask during an interview, the most important question is one you must ask yourself: "Do I feel comfortable with and trust the person I am about to hire?" Your answer to that question should make the hiring decision a little easier.


1. Your estimate/quotation should be clearly detailed so you have a clear understanding. Contractors giving a ball park figure with a rough scope of work, should not be excepted. There could potentially be some hidden cost you thought where in the originally scope, which you will end up paying for.


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