Twenty Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Construction Manager

Published in the ECHO Journal, October 2013

Prior to retaining a construction manager or consultant, you should satisfy yourself that the firm you are considering is the best for your project. To help in making up that decision, invite each candidate, individually, to a board or committee meeting, sit with him or her and conduct your interview. Their answers to these questions will assist you choosing the individual or firm that best meets your needs. Other questions may come to mind as you read this list. Be sure to write them down and ask them of your prospects.

Interview your prospective construction managers carefully and compare their answers. You will be relying on the results of their work for at least 10 years. Remember, also, that the least expensive consultant may not always be the best choice; a little extra money spent on knowledge and experience can often produce great savings in the cost of the construction of the project itself. Look for a construction manager who wants to work with you, is willing to meet your special needs and schedule, and with whom you feel comfortable.

  1. Does the company have a license for the type of work that they will be managing?
  2. How long has the company been in business?
  3. What type of projects do they consult on or manage?
  4. Does the company specialize in working with homeowner association?
  5. What professional organizations does the company belong to?
  6. What types and amounts of insurance does the firm have?

    1. Errors & Omissions: $_____
    2. Property Damage: $_____
    3. Personal Injury: $_____
    4. Workman’s Compensation: $_____
    5. Vehicular: $_____
  7. Will the firm provide you with references for both current projects and projects more than two years old?

    1. Who will be the person on their staff assigned to your project?
    2. How long has he/she been employed by the firm?
  8. How many years experience does he/she have with projects similar to yours?
  9. Will a firm representative be available to attend board meetings to give periodic progress updates?
  10. Does the company charge for any of the following?

    1. Letters to the board or management company.
    2. Notices to homeowners.
    3. Change Order preparation.
    4. Board meeting attendance.
    5. Job schedule updates.
    6. Mileage.
    7. Copying.
    8. Telephone calls
  11. Do they require a retainer fee or deposit? If so, how much?
  12. What is their federal tax ID number?
  13. Will the company analyze your problems and present alternatives?
  14. Will the company develop cost estimates for the alternatives?
  15. Do they conform to their design work to local building code requirements? To the CSI format?
  16. What is their estimate of the length of time that it will take to complete your project?
  17. What will they do to minimize the disruption of life at your association while work is underway?
  18. Do they provide any form of construction quality observation or auditing? Please describe.
  19. Has the firm ever been let go from a project by a client? What was the reason?
  20. What do they believe separates them from their competition?

Enjoy the process!

Richard Tippett is the principal of ERTECH, Inc, based in Watsonville and San Francisco CA. He is a former Chair of ECHO’s Maintenance and Central Coast Resource Panels and a former member of ECHO’s Board of Directors.