Questions to Ask When Vetting a Commercial General Contractor

Commercial general contractors expect a vetting and discovery process before signing any new projects. You need to gather as much information as possible to make an informed decision. But beyond the basic company history and project history, what do you need to know? 

Below is our list of critical questions to ask any commercial general contractor before narrowing down your search.

Questions to Ask a General Commercial Contractor

What similar projects have you worked on?

You want to know not only what experience they have with similar construction and/or remodeling, but also if those projects were successful. You should ask if they were completed on time and within budget.

What level of insurance coverage do you currently carry?

Of course, the commercial general contractor you choose needs to be bonded & insured. However, it’s important to take that one step further and ensure they have enough insurance to cover the needs of the job. Some contractors could be under-insured and cause more damage than they are insured for.

Do you have site supervisors?

You want to be sure you will have main point of contact on site that is employed by the commercial general contractor you hire.

What do you rely on subcontractors for?

Most commercial general contractor companies do use subcontractors so it’s important to find out up front what exactly they use them for and what capabilities they have in-house. Typically, you don’t want a management only firm that has.

Is there any type of guarantee around project deadlines?

What you really want to know is how often projects are completed on time. Oftentimes a commercial general contractor will build in guarantees and/or potential penalties if the project runs over the allotted timeframe for specific reasons. The important component to this question is to get any guarantees or penalties in writing in the final contract.

What is your payment schedule?

It’s important to be frank when talking about money, especially early in the process. These details matter and knowing when payments are due, what the payment terms are, and how much everything will cost ensures everyone is on the same page from the beginning.

What’s the likelihood of having change orders after the scope of work is defined?

Oftentimes change orders are necessary; there can be unforeseen circumstances with just about any project. But it can be helpful to get an idea of how often this happens and what the likelihood is for your specific project. As an extension of that, you should also ask what the process is for possible change orders. How will these be communicated and handled?

On average, how many projects do you work on concurrently?

You want to get an idea of how busy or spread thin the commercial general contractor ,may be during the course of your project. This ties back to timeliness and the likelihood the project will be complete on time.

Ask for references and check them!

Last but certainly not least, always ask for references and take the time to follow up on them. By checking references, you can not only get an idea of the variety of work the commercial contractor does, but also the quality of work.