This is a list of 11 things you should be asking a General Contractor when you are shopping around.
1. Ask for proof of insurance
2. Make sure they are licensed then find out how long have they been licensed. Here is the website for California where you can check http://www.cslb.ca.gov/
3. Can they supply referrals of people they've done jobs for?
4. Ask for their estimate on how much and how long they think they project should take.
5. What is included in their estimate? Such as, is this a total for all work and materials or are you going to be buying certain materials yourself that are not included in the estimate?
6. How many people work for that general contractor? Or is the General Contractor subbing out the work and if so, how long have they worked with the people they are subbing out the work to?
7. If you live in a condo or home that has an HOA, ask the contractor if there are specific permits or approvals they need to get ahead of time and if so, how to get those?
8. Talk about the process of getting permits on the work getting done or if you choose to forgo that.
9. Ask about how the payment will be handled for the job. Every General Contractor does it different and it can largely depend on the size and scope of the job. Some examples of payments can be:
Larger jobs may charge 1/4 down, 1/4 on day one, 1/4 at a certain point during the job then the remainder when the job is done. Others may ask for 50% upfront and the rest when the job is complete.
10. Ask what you should expect during the work. If you are working on a kitchen, you may need to use a hotplate or microwave for a while to eat and also find a make-shift place to clean dishes.
11. Ask how any future issues resulting from the work should be handled.