What are the Best Questions to Ask a General Contractor

11:51 Aug 2023
Top Questions to ask a General Contractor

Preparing relevant questions to ask a general contractor are critically important whether you are building a new home, adding a building extension, or carrying out a renovation, one thing you cannot afford to be wrong about is choosing a general contractor.

To reduce the chances of selecting the wrong building contractor, you need to have prepared questions to ask a general contractor before you hire them.

This is due to the nature of the professional relationship required when working with your expert to execute and oversee the construction process from its initiation to completion.

Should your project not be led by the right team building contractor you face the real possibility of comprising the project, subcontractors, and others, you may end up facing a nightmare an incomplete house with lots of quality issues to deal with.

In case you happen to build your home in Houston, Texas, it is very important that you hire the right Houston general contractor to complete the project.

However, it is easier said than done, for all Houston builders would claim to be the best fit for the project.

So, how do you zero in to the best one and hand him or her the contract? Well, you have to do a bit of research and narrow down your search to a few select general contractors in Houston.

Preparing the best questions to ask a general contractor will reduce the chances exponentially of having your building project turn south. 

Even if it may not always be possible to choose the best person for the job, the questions can help you decide on hiring the best general contractor to fit your needs

As an aside, you may read our resource on the type of questions to ask your home builder.  

Learn about what questions to ask a general contractor before you hire

Top Questions to ask a General Contractor

Top questions to ask home builders before selecting one

Before signing on the dotted line of awarding the contract for your home building or renovation project, it is important to hire the right builder. This way you can avoid a lot of hassle including falling victim to fraud and losing money.

# Can I see your license and insurance? 

A license issued by the authority validates the expertise of the builder and permits him or her to ply his or her trade.

However, one thing that must be kept in mind is that the state of Texas does not require the building contractors to possess a license.

However, qualified Houston general contractors will seek out opportunities to expand their education and skill advancement through continued education, training seminars and actively engaging with their professional career.

So, you should enquire with the municipality and/or county to know about the licensing requirements.

It is advisable to pick a licensed general contractor even though a license need not be mandatory.

This will show the builder in good light and prove his or her credentials. After verifying the license, it is time to know if the person to be considered for hiring has proper insurance.

Also, better hire a general contractor who happens to be an accredited member of GHBA or NAHB.

A builder working without insurance can be a great risk should something goes wrong at the job site.

For instance, if a worker meets with an accident at the site, the onus of compensation will fall on you and you will end up losing a big chunk of money.

Besides, you can face a lawsuit from the worker or subcontractor seeking compensation. A workers’ compensation insurance can protect you from being liable to pay any compensation in the unfortunate case of an injury or fatality.

Also, a general liability insurance can protect your property should a worker break the waterline and cause water to gush into the property.

# Are you aware of the local and national building codes in my area?

Every state or country has its separate building laws or codes suitable to the particular topography and designed from the perspectives of ensuring public health, safety, and general welfare of people of the place.

They ensure the structural stability of the building from fire, windstorms, earthquakes, or other extreme events.

The codes are enjoined by the local regulatory authorities to achieve practical levels of energy efficiency, among other considerations.

Hence, knowing such laws should be the precondition for all Houston general contractors operating in the Houston area.

In other words, you should not hire a Houston builder who is unfamiliar with the building codes and regulations of the local area and does not have the permit to operate.

And should you disregard such requirements, your project may be in danger of facing the wrong end of the stick by the building law enforcement authorities.

# Tell me about your business?

Asking the building contractors in the Houston area about their business will give you an understanding of the kind of people you are dealing with.

Know about the experience of the builder and how long he or she has been operating in the area and business.

If the Houston builder has worked on a number of projects, he or she is likely to have greater knowledge of the activities and challenges that are part of any project and how to execute or address them.

However, don’t just take the contractor’s word at face value but verify the claims from references.

Yes, ask them to discuss some of the projects he or she has completed in the past or working on at present.

You may call such references and enquire about the builder and his conduct, expertise, and the ability to stick to the schedule, among others.

You may see the testimonials or reviews given by people about him or her on the social media.

If the builder is reluctant to pass on such information, you may simply skip and move on to the next one.

Questions to ask a General Contractor

# How will the project be supervised? 

A project can only be successfully completed within time and budget and by adhering to the quality parameters if it is properly supervised and tracked.

It may be possible that the Houston builder is involved in other projects and may not apportion sufficient time to look into the nitty-gritty of the project on a daily basis.

So, it is important for you to understand how the project will be supervised and ensure everything is on track.

In case the contractor is not keeping a tab on a daily basis then find out who would be in charge of the project being executed on the ground and whom do you contact to get information or suggest things.

It is only when you are satisfied with the way the project is going to be supervised, also corroborated by people mentioned in references, that you can think of hiring the general contractor.

You may read our blog to know about the kind of activities home builders are usually involved in.

# Do you provide any warranty?

A warranty is an important document to bind the construction company to the construction process, its quality, and to address things if faults are developed within a specified time post-completion.

The warranty will clearly outline the things to be involved in the construction process and its validity period.

For instance, what happens to the building if it develops cracks or faces plumbing issues after you start living inside.

If there is no warranty then the construction company can simply wash his or her hands off the matter or charge you for carrying out ‘repairs’, which may be the result of some below-par quality work.

So, while hiring a builder, ensure a proper warranty is in place and which can be enforced should something goes wrong.

# Will you arrange for all the building permits?

Your project can only be deemed complete if it is inspected and certified by the concerned local authorities.

Besides, if you are aiming for home remodeling, it may require some kind of approval.

An experienced and knowledgeable Houston builder would know the kind of building permits to be obtained and how to go about arranging inspection of the building at various phases.

Remember, doing such things on your own can be tedious, time-consuming, and difficult.

So, ensure the general contractor you hire should be entrusted with arranging all types of building permits.

You may view our video to know the type of questions to be asked to a general contractor you are going to hire for the project.

# What will be your payment terms and schedule?

Money is the real thing to drive the project. So, ask the Houston builders being interviewed by you about the payment schedule acceptable to them.

Do not go for paying the full amount upfront and discuss the payment terms before hiring the person, including the amount, key deliverables, and dates.

It is only when the payment terms and schedule are agreed upon that you can expect the work to go as per the plan.


Your dream home may be one of the many projects for the Houston builders but it is everything for you.

So, choose a general contractor who would make sure the project is completed according to the design plan and address any kind of challenge that may crop up during construction.

The above-mentioned questions are important for you to gauge the expertise, experience, professional conduct, and commitment of the Houston builder towards your project to complete.

You may read a blog to know the types of questions a general contractor may be asked before hiring.    

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