Knowing what questions to ask a woodworking firm is critical in choosing the right one to handle your project. In this post, we explain what to look for and what to ask when vetting a woodworking firm so you can ensure your project is carried out according to best industry practices and quality standards.
What to Look For in an Interior Architectural Woodworking Firm
When vetting an interior architectural woodworking firm for a project, there are several things to look out for. These will be the markers of excellence that determine whether a firm is experienced enough to meet the needs of your project, and they include:
- Past experience: Use a firm that has a demonstrated ability to handle the scope of your project. Knowing what projects they’ve undertaken in the past will provide good insight into this. The last thing you want is to hire an inexperienced firm.
- Manufacturing plant: Similarly, arranging a site visit to a woodworking firm’s manufacturing plant will give you a better idea of how much manpower they have available. It will also be valuable in showing you their processes and quality control.
- Client testimonials: Another way you can gauge whether a woodworking firm is right for your project is to speak to past clients, or request client testimonials. These will give you an unadulterated account of what the firm is really like to work with, how long their turnaround time is, and what the final result of the project was.
- Knowledge and skills: It’s important to ask a woodworking firm technical questions about your project, or their past projects in general, in order to gain an understanding of their knowledge, skills, and expertise. You may also want to ask to see any earned certifications, such as QCP licensing.
- Quality of materials: Whichever woodworking firm you choose, you want to ensure that the materials they use are high quality so that the integrity of your project is secure. Requesting to see product samples is one way to do this. You can also ask about the quality standards they adhere to.
- Quality standards: Checking to see if your prospective woodworking firm follows proper quality standards, like the AWI Standards, is the number one thing you should look for during the vetting process. If a firm is QCP licensed, for example, you can rest assured knowing that they comply with best industry practices, and that their work has already been thoroughly vetted by experienced professionals.
All that said, the most important things to look for when hiring an interior architectural woodworking firm is their level of experience, their references and reputation, and their adherence to quality standards.
Choosing a woodworking firm that’s QCP licensed is the best way to tick all of these boxes because it means their work ethic and quality of work has already been proven to meet the industry’s best practices.
5 Questions to Ask Woodworking Firms
Knowing what to look for will help you decide which questions to ask woodworking firms during the hiring process. It’s important to ask a woodworking firm the right questions, rather than going off their claims alone, because it will ensure that the firm you hire meets the vision you have for your project.
Here are some of the best questions to ask woodworking firms:
1. What projects have you worked on recently?
Get an understanding of their recent projects so that you know what they’re capable of handling now. Ask about the size of the projects, what went well, what was a challenge, and how they met the client’s needs. You can also request to see portfolio examples of completed projects.
2. What’s an example of a project you’ve undertaken that’s similar to this one?
Don’t just ask woodworking firms about the projects they’ve worked on in general – ask to hear about specific projects that are similar to the one they’re bidding on. This will be the best way of determining how capable they are.
For example, if you’re hiring them for a large-scale, high-investment project, like a courthouse, you’ll want to ensure that they’ve worked on similar-sized projects in the past and have the skills, equipment, and manpower to carry it out successfully.
3. How do you manage your time during a project?
Oftentimes, firms will have a few different projects they’re working on at once. To make sure they’re able to prioritize your work, it’s important to ask a woodworking firm how they manage time during a project and what measures they have in place to stay efficient.
You could also ask how busy they are in general so that you can choose a firm that has enough time to dedicate to your project.
4. Can I see some product samples?
Requesting product samples is the best way to see a woodworking firm’s quality of materials and craftsmanship. Related to this, you can also ask about what type of wood they have the most experience with, what type of warranty they offer, and what type of products they most commonly produce. These are all important questions to ask woodworking firms because it gives you a clearer picture of what you’re investing in.
5. How do you ensure a high level of quality for the project?
Perhaps the most important of questions to ask woodworking firms, however, is how they uphold quality standards throughout their work on a project. Ask what quality management system they have in place, how they source materials, and what their installation process is.
If they follow the AWI Standards and are QCP-licensed, you’ll know that most of the vetting process has been carried out for you and that the firm has demonstrated excellence according to the industry’s most stringent quality standards.
Why Choose a QCP-Licensed Woodworking Firm?
When a woodworking firm is licensed to AWI’s Quality Certification Program, it shows they comply with strict guidelines surrounding the fabrication, finishing, and installation of woodwork as set out in the AWI Standards.
Hiring a QCP licensed woodworking firm will thus ensure that your project benefits from:
- Manufacturers that are reliable, committed, and have a strong work ethic
- The use of high-quality materials, and woodwork that meets best practices
- Minimized risk and liability in the case of nonconformities with the Standards
Choosing a QCP licensed woodworking firm for your project also gives you the chance of having your project inspected and confirmed as QCP certified. As long as your project specifies the AWI Standards and QCP certification in its documents, a QCP licensed firm will be able to bid on your project and order QCP project certification for you. This will give you a competitive edge among clients by showing that your woodworking project is quality assured and complies with the best industry standards.
Another benefit of choosing a QCP licensed woodworking firm is that it saves time. Instead of having to go through lengthy vetting processes yourself, you can simply use AWI’s quick search tool, and select from a list of local firms that have been pre-vetted for you.