Wait, who is that guy? ……Contractor Vetting and references

You’re waiting for bids, they start trickling in,,,Bob who you’ve heard good things about, but don’t know that well is your low bidder and you want to make sure he’s your guy.  Here is my basic approach of how to make sure you have vetted this person carefully.  http://youtu.be/RkMrNeWL6DA

It’s important, and expected, to mix in some tough questions for your contractor as well as his references.  This is a big commitment and you’ll need plenty of insight in order to make a wise decision:

For your builder interview  (do not use all of these in order -some are meant to be a little antagonistic):

  1. So how long have you been in the business?
  2. 2.How long have you been doing business under this name?
  3. If there were changes- make sure you drill down to understand the nature of the change.
  4. How many employees?  How long have they been with you? Are they actually your employees-or subs?
  5. How many subs do you typically use for each project?  How long have you worked with them?
  6. Who would most likely be running my job?
  7. Can you tell me a little bit more about him and his related experience>
  8. How many projects do you have ongoing at the same time?
  9. Have you worked in our town before? If so when and what kind of project?
  10. Do you finish your projects on time?  If not where are the most likely pitfalls?
  11. Have you been involved in any lawsuits? If so- what were they?
  12. Do you issue lien waivers after we pay you?
  13. Will your subs issue lien waivers after you pay them?
  14. What’s you policy with cleanup?

Line up the bidders side by side in chart format into various categories and check out the references in a logical manner:

It is so important to ask questions of the contractors’ references and listen carefully for answers both spoken and implied.

contractor reference 1 reference 2 reference 3
how do you know them?
how many times have they worked for you before?
have you refered them to others? Any feedback?
describe the project
approx dollar value
when did you do the work?
did they finish on time?
any issues?
how much did they subcontract? (approx %)
site safety?
schedule ok?
easy to deal with?  Quality?
did they ask for many extras?
did they provide lien waivers or receipts when paid?
cleanup and general vibe?
 permits / closeout?
would you use them again?
anything else you think we should know ?
Any special insurance you required?

Like most analysis, it’s part science and part art. Make you’re comparing “apples to apples”.  Some contractors can be very creative in their assessment of what a substitute “apple” is.

You have to remember , nobody is going to give you a weak reference. You are going to have to read between the lines, to get to where the real issues lie. i.e the pause in the response when you ask  “How much did they follow the schedule?”


You’ll need to interpret the answers and get a feel for the right guy, If you have any questions, please call Steve 914 980 5532!