Questions to Ask Contractors

Are you soliciting bids for work on your systems for heating, lighting, cooling, ventilating, cooking or water heating?

Here are some suggestions to check the quality of the proposals you receive.

Does the contractor:

Include references for similar recent projects along with the proposal?

List his or her street address and phone numbers, or just a post office box?

Date the proposal?

Clearly describe what will be done?

Include removal and appropriate disposal of existing equipment?

State what work is exempted from the pro­posal?

State the contractor’s insurance(s) needed for your protection, such as workmen’s compensa­tion, builders risk, and general liability?

Describe the warrantees and guarantees?

Include a provision for arbitration? (small projects may not need this provision)

State options with prices for better quality equipment than specified?

Do a heat gain/loss study when proposing new heating or cooling equipment?

Train your facility managers in related operation and maintenance?

Promise to submit information from each rel­evant equipment manufacturer (such as operating manuals)?

Indicate when the work will be done?

State what work will be subcontracted to other contractors?

Indicate that State Sales Tax is not included in the final price?

Who is responsible for pulling permits?

State who is responsible for submitting drawings for approval?

State that all work will conform to applicable codes?

State the time period that the price is valid?

Require an unreasonable down payment? (More than 1/3 down should raise concerns, although purchase of mechanical equipment may require a substantial down payment)

Clearly state the benchmarks for progress and final payments?

Specific to your installation:

What is your approach to a project such as this?

How long will it take for the equipment to be ordered and delivered?

Will the equipment be delivered at this site or at your (the contractor’s) facility?

What happens if any of the equipment is damaged before it is actually installed?

How long will the installation process take?

When do you expect to begin and fully complete this project?

What would be your typical daily schedule?

How and when will I be contacted if no one is to show up on a particular day?

Can you finish before [insert major holiday or significant congregation event)?

Who will be assigned as project supervisor for the job?

Who will be working on the project?

Are they employees or subcontractors and are they all insured?

Will a licensed electrician work on any wiring?

Will we need any permits for this project? Who is going to obtain and pay for them?

Will the township (or city) require a structural review of the roof by an architect or professional engineer?

Who will pay for this service?

Will you provide written guarantees on all materials and workmanship?

What happens if you change your mind?

What is the exact schedule of payments to be made?

Besides materials and labor, does your estimate include sales tax (your congregation is tax-exempt), permit fees, structural analysis fees, interconnection fees, and shipping costs?

How soon can you respond to a service call? Would you be the one to repair the system?

About the installer’s company:

What is your street address? (if provided with only a post office box number)

Is your company a full service or specialty firm?

How long have you been in business?

How is your firm organized?

How many projects like mine have you completed in the past year? In the past three years?

May I have a list of references for those projects?

Does your company carry workers compensation and liability insurance? Do your subcontractors, if applicable, carry liability insurance?

Can you show me a copy of your policy?

May I have a list of business referrals or suppliers?

What percentage of your business is repeat or referral business?

Are you a member of a national trade association?

Who cleans up after the job is finished?


Overall feelings about the contractor:

Does the contractor appear to be knowledgeable?

Does the contractor appear to have a genuine concern for your needs?

Can you communicate effectively with the contractor?



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