After you have completed your initial screening for selecting a modular home general contractor, consider taking some of the following precautionary steps. You can forgo some of these steps if a GC has been in business for a long time and is widely known to have a good reputation.
- Obtain an insurance binder mailed directly from the GC’s insurance company, since this is the only way to ensure that he has a current policy. See if he has sufficient liability and workers’-compensation insurance; your own insurance agent can tell you what the coverage should be. If the modular home general contractor or a subcontractor is not fully insured and someone gets injured or there is significant damage to your property, you could be liable.
- Check with the state or local building inspector to verify that the GC is licensed and in good standing.
- Contact the Better Business Bureau and local consumer-affairs office to see if there have been complaints lodged against the GC. If there have been complaints, find out if they were resolved satisfactorily for the customer.
- Ask the state attorney general’s office if there are any civil suits filed against the GC.
- Get references from the GC for his commercial bank, suppliers, and subcontractors, and then contact each one.
Questions for Each Modular Home General Contractor Candidate
Tailor the list to suit your circumstances and each candidate’s background.
- How long have you been in construction?
- Do you work alone or are you part of a larger company?
- How long have you been working for yourself?
- How long have you been a GC?
- What did you do in construction before you were a GC?
- What is your experience with building new homes?
- Tell me about your remodeling experience?
- Tell me about your experience with modular homes.
- Were you a GC or subcontractor?
- If so, how long ago?
- How many modular homes have you worked on?
- What type of modular homes have you worked on?
- What work were you responsible for?
- What tasks did you do personally?
- Which modular manufacturers’ homes have you worked on?
- Have you ever set a modular home?
- What experience do you have with the type of modular home I am building?
- Have you built the types of site-built structures I need?
- What experience do you have supervising excavation work?
- What experience do you have preparing a site for the delivery and set of a modular home?
- What experience do you have overseeing foundation work?
- Are there construction-related tasks you would rather not be responsible for?
- Do you have other employees? If so, what do they do for you and how will they help me?
- What subcontracting trades, if any, are on your payroll?
- Will you personally supervise my project from start to finish? If not, can I meet the person who will?
- When will you be able to start my project?
- How long will it take you to complete my project?
- How many other projects will you be working on at the same time as mine?
- Will you be directly supervising these projects?
- Do you already have subcontractors in mind for my job?
- How often will you contact me?
- How can I contact you?
- How do you keep track of scheduling?
- If I have a warranty problem after I move in, what do I need to do to get the problem fixed?
- How long can I expect it to take?
- Will you take responsibility for one of your subcontractor’s warranty problems if the subcontractor will not?
- Do you have any partners in your company? If so, what role do they play?
- Do you have a “legalese” section in your contract that states the terms and conditions? Can I have a copy to review?
- How much of a deposit do you require?
- Under what circumstances is the deposit refundable?
Take note of each GC’s personality and see how well it fits with your own. In many ways, your modular home general contractor will serve as your business partner in the construction of your new home. If you are not comfortable with a candidate, find a gracious way to tell him that you have decided to go with someone else. Do not ask a candidate you have ruled out to complete an estimate just so you can get a comparison price. Not only is this unfair to him, it will not serve your interests. What you need are estimates from candidates that you would consider selecting.
For more information about selecting a modular home general contractor, see Selecting a General Contractor in my book The Modular Home.