Essential Interview Techniques for Selecting the Perfect General Contractor!

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Hiring a construction company to implement the design of your project can be a daunting experience and a tremendous responsibility.

Though the contractors that have bid on your project come highly recommended by your design professional, co-worker or BFF, interviewing each candidate face to face so get that “gut feeling” is important in the decision-making process. Your ultimate goal is to come away with supreme confidence in one company to complete your project on time and within budget.

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By setting aside one hour per interview and breaking it down to 45 minutes with each firm and a 15 minute break for a re-cap and comparing notes with your colleagues before the next group comes in is a good method.

Set ground rules. Each interviewee is to be advised that their total time will be 45 minutes. They are required to answer revealing key questions. A 5 minute warning will be given for their final remarks and “ wrap up”. If you don’t set this up initially, there is a greater chance of time overruns and endless contractor “monologues”.

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The following are sample questions that I recently used in a contractor interview session with my clients. The answers proved to be very helpful to narrow the field from 3 to the 2 finalists:

  1. How long will the work take?
    •  What is the expected sequence of events?
    • Do you work in one area then move to the next or do you work everywhere all at the same time?
    • Will there be any times when there won’t be workers on my project? If so, why?
  2. Do you personally supervise the work? Will there be a full time  working foreman who will be at the project daily?
  3. How do you protect against dirt and dust during the course of this project?
  4. Is there anything we can do to avoid change orders?
  5. What are the key things that that will make for the smoothest running project possible?
  6. This is your opportunity to tell us why we should hire you rather than your competition?

At the conclusion of the interviews, set aside time to recap your feelings about what you learned. Does one firm shine above the others? I call this the “beauty contest” because if all else is equal, that is what it all boils down to. Do you have confidence that this GC firm will bring the project in on time, within budget, run a pristine job site and are the kind of people you want to have access to your property?

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The next step would be to contact the references provided to get a solid take on the contractor’s work quality, organization, workers and the overall experience.

Now… do you feel more confident that you will select the right firm for your project? Need more advice – feel free to ask me!

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