Essential Questions to Ask Your Contractor Before Breaking Ground

Making the decision to break ground and build a custom home is an exciting experience, and one that comes with important decisions. The first of many, is who to trust to bring your vision to life. When it comes to choosing a contractor, asking the right questions is essential.

Do you have any references?

Speaking with previous clients and cross checking reviews and references can help you establish trust with your potential contractor and gain a better understanding of their expertise and specialties. Knowing their previous experience and how that correlates to the job your are entrusting them with builds confidence and help you make a more informed decision.

Who will be my point of contact during the process?

Communication is key during the home building process, so It is essential to establish your main point of contact early on and discuss communication preferences. Is there a project manager who will be moderating the conversation with the contractor? Will I have multiple points of contact? Should I expect correspondence by email, phone, or text? When communication styles clash, it can lead to frustration and delays. Knowing these things early can help you identify whether or not a contractor is the right choice for you.

Do you have a license?

Many states require contractors to be licensed in various areas, so be sure to research your state’s requirements and ensure that any contractor you are vetting abides by all licensing requirements. Ask to see proof or, if necessary, contact the issuing agency in your state. This protects you in case your contractor tries to leave in the middle of your project or does something incorrectly.

Do you have insurance?

Insurance protects both you and your contractor from accidents that may occur during the job. Ask for a detailed summary from the insurance provider so that you know what is covered and the coverage amount in the event of injury or property damage. Construction sites are dangerous, and failing to properly insure yourself can end up costing you. It is important that your contractor have both workers compensation and liability insurance.

How frequent are general project updates?

Regular project updates help you stay connected to the progress of your home and can give you peace of mind. When you are vetting contractors, ask how frequently they intend to give you official updates, and express your expectations as well. Get a clear understanding of what will be discussed in your updates, where they will take place, and how to communicate between updates. A few questions you may want to ask your project manager during one of these updates include:

  • What has the team completed since we last spoke?
  • Has the crew encountered any roadblocks due to weather or resources?
  • Is there anything that the construction crew needs from me to clarify project goals?

A reputable project manager will be proactive in sharing this type of information with you. Open and transparent communication is your best tool for achieving the end results you expect.

What is the estimated finish date?

On average, a custom home can take anywhere from 10–16 months to build depending on the scope of the project. Ask your prospective contractors for an estimated completion date that includes drawing, planning, designing, construction, and any finishing steps with room for delays. Inclimate weather, building materials, and injuries are all potential factors that could delay your project, so be sure that your contractor has taken these into account before presenting you with an estimated completion date. While you may be inclined to choose the contractor that promises the quickest turnaround time, it is almost always best to choose someone who is realistic and over delivers.

Will you obtain permits and/or inspections needed for this job?

Your contractor should be responsible for obtaining the right permits and scheduling all necessary inspections. Be sure to ask any potential contractor what permits/inspections are necessary, and when they will be obtained. If they are unsure of all the requirements or suggest that you are responsible, it could be a red flag. Bottom line, your contractor is a professional and should be willing to obtain any and all necessary permits.

What is the payment schedule?

The Better Business Bureau recommends arranging a low down payment and only pay the contractor according to how much work has been finished. Don’t make the final payment until all the work has been completely finished and it meets your standards. Make sure to discuss the payment terms before construction on your home begins. It is also a good idea to make an actual payment schedule with the contractor of how much and when the payments will be due according to what they accomplish.

Can I get all of this in writing?

A contract protects you, your house, your contractor and their crew. Everything that has been discussed during the entire hiring process needs to be put in actual writing. Make sure that the contract has everything listed out clearly e.g. deadlines, payments, and any requirements that need to be followed. If anything gets off track you can go back to the contract to avoid any legal trouble. It also helps avoid the contractor going back on their word. Once the contract is made make sure you read through it carefully before signing it.

It’s important that you have trust with your contractor. Home building can be a stressful time, but if you work with a company you trust it allows you to focus more on the excitement of it. Simonini is a dedicated team of realtors, contractors, designers and architects. We have been building homes for over 4 decades and focus on quality craftsmanship to build your home for life. Simonini is a turnkey solution to your forever home that you can trust.


Whether you’re interested in a new build, collective home or renovation, our team is excited to understand your plans and answer your questions. Kindly fill out this form to start the conversation.