14 Questions to ask your building contractor’s clients

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Will you want to hire your building contractor after speaking to their clients?

We’ve examined a number of serious construction flaws in recent weeks that have caused homeowners’ distress, financial hardship, and occasionally loss of a home. Many homeowners are concerned about the possibility of protracted legal battles to recoup money spent on fixing construction issues. This included the horrific tale of a well-known UK builder who produced a large number of subpar houses. Another article discusses a $1.7 million Australian apartment that, a year after it was finished, isn’t fit for habitation. I’ve covered how to make sure you’re hiring the right building contractor in other articles. These articles include Before hiring a building contractor, ask these questions and Read this before choosing your home building and renovation contractor.

To ensure you employ a reputable building contractor it’s important to ask your contractors for a list of references of past clients and projects. What building projects have they worked on? Are these similar to the work you are asking them to execute? Were these projects completed successfully – finished on time, without fuss and of good quality? But don’t just take the contractor’s word for it, rather talk to these past clients and ask them these important questions:

  • What was the scope and size of the project that the contractor completed and when was it finished?
  • Were you satisfied with the work?
  • Was the quality good?
  • Did they finish it when they said they would?
  • Did they communicate regularly with you?
  • Was the contractor’s management frequently on the project?
  • Were there problems? What were they and how did the contractor handle them? Were the problems sorted promptly? (Remember that almost every building project will encounter problems and there probably will be an error or two along the way – but it’s not so much about the problem, rather about the solution and how quickly and efficiently the contractor dealt with the issue.)
  • How easy were they to contact? Did they return phone calls and emails? Were they responsive?
  • Did they work safely?
  • Did they keep the project site tidy?
  • Were there extra costs? Why? Did they advise you ahead of time that you would incur these additional costs? Were they fair and reasonable?
  • Was the contractor helpful? Did they provide good advice?
  • Did the neighbours have any complaints about the contractor?
  • What advice would you give me if I was to hire this contractor?

It’s vital that you employ the right contractor for your building project. Take the time to thoroughly investigate them to ensure that they will be the right contractor for your project. Knowing some of the issues that previous clients encountered with the contractor will make you more prepared to manage them should you employ them. Knowing their strengths and weaknesses will enable you to quickly deal with problems before they occur, and it will often give you confidence to deal with the contractor.

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