Questions, Questions, Questions…

kick a soldier in butt

A contractor got a laundry list of questions from a prospective client.  They were posted on the Contractortalk forum:

Member Heritage said:

Too good not to share

To make a very long story short…here is one of my prospective clients. We haven’t signed anything yet but since they had concept drawings for their reno & addition to their home, I gave them a rough break down on costs.The next step is for them to sign with me for pre-construction services. Before they do…they said they have a “laundry list” of questions. I said “Sure, send them to me”.


Please bear in mind…this is just for PRE-CONSTRUCTION. I break my jobs up into 2 phases: Pre-construction and Actual construction. That’s 2 separate contracts. At pre-construction, I put together concept drawings, permit drawings, detail/section drawings, a SOW, transparent budget, bids from subs, committee of adjustments/zoning passes…aka the “design package”. Whether we actually contract for the actual work or not is up to them/me. They can take the package and have it bid on by others…I don’t care.

I’ve had people ask me questions…but nobody ever wrote it all out and asked me to type the answers back…and it has to be in RED.

Without further A-do

Dear Peter,

Here are some questions that we have regarding the house renovation. We appreciate your time and effort in the pre-planning stage and look forward to your assistance in answering these questions. Please place your answers underneath the questions in red.

General Questions:
1) Will you be using subcontractors on this project?
a. If so, are your subcontractors licensed to work in these areas (such as plumbing, roofing, etc.)?
i. What is the average length of time they have worked for you?
2) How many jobs does your company have in progress right now?
3) What is the average number of jobs you do at the same time?
4) Do you have any other outstanding bids right now?
a. If these turn into jobs, will our job drop to the bottom of the list?
5) How do you manage your jobs on a day-to day basis?
a. Who checks for quality, mistakes and progress?
6) Who will be on-site and in charge of our home each day?
a. Will we have access to this person’s name, email and phone number?
7) Have you or your company ever been sued before?
8) Have you or your company ever sued anyone or filed mechanics liens before?
a. What happened? Why the disagreement?
9) What has been your best building experience?
10) What are your business ambitions?
11) What is the longest amount of down-time you experienced between jobs?
12) Who were your two best customers? Why?
13) Who were your two worst customers? Why?
14) Have you/your company ever caused/been involved in an accident that caused someone to receive hospital treatment or be hospitalized?
15) Do you plan to vacation during our job?
a. If so, who will manage in your absence?
16) Who are your top 3 material suppliers?
17) Do you have public liability and property damage insurance?
18) Do you have workers’ compensation medical insurance?
a. If so, are your sub-contractors covered for the medical insurance
19) Have you ever worked on a project that is similar to our home?
a. If so, what were some of the main challenges that you faced during construction?
b. And how did you time-manage the situation, and insure that you stayed close to the budget?
20) How would you handle a specific problem related to this project?
21) Could we have a list of 15 home references?
22) How and when do you clean up, particularly fine dust?
23) Does Nostco give written warranties?
24) To which professional associations do you belong?
a. Do you attend regular meetings or hold an office within the association?

House Specific Questions:
25) Could you start our renovation with the garage?
a. Could you start in the spring?
26) Will we have the opportunity to store our belongings in the basement while construction is going on?
27) Who would conduct our home inspection?
28) In regards to our roof, if we decided to slant the roof down, would that compromise the size of the garage? Are there any other options?
29) What are some cost effective ways that we could handle the entrance?
30) Do we require blueprints or building plans?
31) The attic entrance now resides in the master bedroom, is it possible to change that location?
32) Can you reposition the central vacuuming system into the garage?

Spreadsheet Specific Questions:
33) Were appliances included in the final price?
34) Line 157, Labour – $16,000
a. Please provide further breakdown of this labour
b. What is it referring to?
35) There are blank rows in the spreadsheet, are these services included in the project? If not, why? (example…Line 8-16 – Soft costs)
36) Are washroom facilities for your staff(sub-contractors) included in the cost?
37) Line 405, Toilets – $400
a. We will be reusing our existing toilets (2)
38) Line 84 – $4,000
a. We are removing the columns from the plans
39) Line 107, Stone Masonry – $5,000
a. Please describe what this entails
40) Line 146, Railing
a. What type of material will be used for the railing?
41) Line 184, Bathrooms
a. Does this price reflect all 3 bathroom renovations from the plans?
b. We have decided to take the bathroom number back down to 2 (Plans will be re-drawn)
42) Line 210, Roofing – $3,500
a. Is this just for the garage roof?
43) Line 294, Drywall
a. How much space will we lose in a room if drywall is applied?
b. Please describe a before and after scenario
44) Can you install a pre-fabricated shower stall and kitchen cabinets?
a. Will this affect the labour costs?
45) Line 338, Carpets – $2,000
a. We will only be using carpeting for the basement
46) Line 394, Plumbing – $3,000
a. Does this include internal and external pricing?
47) Line 456, Landscaping-Sub
a. What is this for?
b. We may have our own landscaper to the external landscaping
48) We have calculated that roughly $40,500 of the project is going to labour costs, how can you assist in lowering this cost to suit our budget?

Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. We look forward to hearing back from you.
Debra and Kaeisha ***x

Here’s a reply that took the “kick ass award”, by 480Sparky:

Dear Mr. & Mrs. ************.

I hope you don’t mind, but I’d like to ask you a few questions.

1. How much money do you have in the bank?
a. Are you willing to substantiate that with a copy of 3 months of bank statements?
b. Are you willing to provide copies of your last 5 years of tax returns?

2. Is your home currently paid for, or are you still making payments?
a. If payments, what are the terms?

3. How often do you to go on vacation?
a? Where to?
b. For how long?

4. Do you consider things like eating out, going to movies, etc. luxuries or necessities?

5. How stable is your current employment?
a. How long have you been in your current jobs?
b. What do both of you do for a living?

6. Have you ever hired a contractor before?
a. If so, who was it?
b. What was the project?

7. What is your highest level of education? (high school, college ,etc)

8. How many children (if any) do you claim as dependants on your tax return?

9. Have you ever been convicted of a felony?

10. Have you ever been deemed mentally unfit?

11. Have you ever been ticketed for driving while under the influence?

12. Do you plan on being present during the day when workers are at your project?
a. If so, do you know that getting in their way, asking question, making changes, etc. raises the price?
b. Can you bake good cookies?
c. Do you like Mtn. Dew?

13. Will you allow workers in your house to use the bathroom?
a. If so, make sure there’s at least 15 rolls of skid paper and a plunger. My plumber, Denny, likes to drop footballs.

14. Are you aware that we are required to obtain permits for this job?
a. If not, why do you think I am willing to risk my career just to save you a couple bucks?
b. If so, you understand that they are a cost of doing business and must be added to the cost of your project?

15. We are insured. Are you?
a. Please provide a copy of your current homeowner’s policy.

16. Do you have any pets in the house we need to be aware of?
a. If so, please use some common sense and put them in a part of the house no workers will need to be in.

17. Do you have any allergies? Particularly, to dust, fumes, etc?

18. Are you smart enough to remove paintings, knick-knacks on shelves, family portraits, pictures, etc. from the walls before we start?

19. Do you understand that your project is not a ½-hour show once a week on PBS?

20. Do you understand the only portion of the project we can allow homeowners to help out ‘in order to reduce cost’ is to sweep up the floor at the end of the day?
a. Are you willing to take the trash out to the curb on pick-up day?

21. Please describe your worst experience with a contractor.

22. Please describe your best experience with a contractor.

23. Can you comprehend our unwillingness to break down prices because doing so serves no useful purpose?

24. Are your next-door neighbors going to bother the workers with incessant questions and irrelevant babbling?
a. If so, are any of your neighbors qualified to work in any of the construction fields?
b. Are any of them Civil War veterans?
c. Do any of them have tools we can use?

25. Since you’re unwilling to give us a key to any of your doors and too lazy to reprogram the garage door operator, is it OK for any of the workers to gain entry into your home with a 5-lb sledge hammer should they arrive to find the house locked up?

26. Can we have permission to crank up 12 job-site radios, full blast, each tuned to a different station, just to annoy ‘Mrs. Kravitz’ across the street? (You know.. the nosey broad from Bewitched?)

27. Several of our workers drive older vehicles. We hope you don’t mind the spots of oil, grease and antifreeze on the driveway. Also, some guys might be a little tipsy upon arriving, so you may want to take the birdbath and patio furniture out of the front lawn. Is that OK with you?

28. Is it OK to wolf-whistle and make lewd remarks about your teenage daughter?

29. Most of our crews don’t go anywhere for lunch… they bring it with them. We hope you won’t mind the stench of rotting food that gets dumped behind the drywall. Don’t worry about it… if it gets too bad, just don’t use that room until the mold finishes it off.

30. Are there any particular swear / cuss words that really offend you?

31. Do you believe in a Supreme Being and/or Creator of the Universe?

32. Do you have a good stock of air freshener? My plumber, Denny, likes to drop more than footballs, and he thinks it’s funnier than hell while in a small crowded room.
a. Denny’s favorite line on the job site is, “Damn! Did I eat that, or did it crawl up my asshole and die in there?”

33. Are you still reading this, or have you already decided, “Man, this dude is just plain nuts!”

34. Do you understand that there’s only so many amps in your electric panel, so much psi in your water lines, and only so much flow available in your gas lines?
a. If any of my subs do a proper calculation, you may need to increase some of you utility services.

35. Why do you spell it ‘labour’? Are you English or something? Do we get buttered toast with tea at 2 PM every day?
a. Or, more likely, you just copy & pasted some web site about hiring contractors?


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