Five Questions to Ask A Contractor About Your Tenant Fit-Out

Five Questions to Ask A Contractor About Your Tenant Fit-Out

Fitting out a leased space is a process tenants can undertake multiple times as they develop their businesses, but how smoothly—and efficiently–that process goes depends a lot on the contractor you choose to complete the project.

When considering the bids you’ve received for a fit-out project, keep the following questions in mind to help you choose a contractor who will provide the highest quality work, on time and on budget:

  1. Are you licensed and insured, and do you have references?

    This is one of the most foundational questions you can ask, and how a contractor responds will tell you a lot about their credibility as professionals. Before you entertain any other question, make sure that the contractor is licensed and carries all necessary insurance, not just to cover any damages that may occur to the property, but to save you from liability if a worker is injured during the course of your project.

    References are also key in a project of this scope. Ideally, the contractor should be able to furnish you with a list of sites on which they have worked, as well as clients with whom you can speak to confirm the quality, timeliness, and cost-effectiveness of the job.

  1. What is included in the fit-out?

    It may not always be wise to take a low bid at face value. Ask the contractor to spell out what is included in the fit-out in exact detail so that you are not left with work that still needs to be done—or with an unexpected extra bill for doing something you assumed was part of the project.

  2. What does the timeline look like?

    This is the place to dig a little deeper with the contractor on how they will manage the timeline of your project. Ask if they will be working on other projects simultaneously, and if so, what the likelihood is that your project could be sidelined by a need elsewhere. Be sure there is a project manager on site dedicated to monitoring and facilitating timely completion of the project, and readily available to you for updates. Finally, ask what percentage of their projects they have completed by the projected deadline to get a gauge of their ability to fulfill service on time.

  3. Do you use subcontractors?

    Asking your contractor if subcontractors are used is important, as you want to be aware of who is working on your site, and ensure that they also have the necessary credentials and licensing. If the contractor uses subcontractors, ask who they are and vet them ahead of time.

  4. Is your bid an estimate or fixed price?

    When it comes to paying for a tenant fit-out, surprises are something you’d like to avoid. Ask the contractor you are considering if their bid is an estimate or a fixed price. If it is an estimate, ask what factors could influence the pricing and to what degree. Depending on the project, a good contractor may tell you that they won’t know the condition of a certain element until the work is started, and that this could impact pricing. The important thing is to know this possibility in advance so that it can be taken into account as you plan your budget and make decisions.

At A.F. Alber we are committed to communicating with our clients and providing value from the start of a project. With a 30+ year record of successful fit-outs completed on time and on budget, we look forward to talking with you about your next project!