Home > Selecting the Right Contractor for Your Project
Selecting the Right Contractor for Your Project
A contractor is part craftsman, part businessman, and part magician. In most cases, general contractors are craftsmen at heart, so their workmanship is outstanding; however, their business skills may display room for improvement with slow or untidy paperwork. Because general contractors are more affordable and are often willing to work with home owners on a one-on-one basis, they are preferable to a large construction company. Unfortunately, their interest in completing the project may lag because it is interfering and overlapping with their next job and eroding their profits. Overall, it can be difficult generalizing contractors because each one has their own personality and working style.
In order to find a reliable contractor, start by asking friends and family for recommendations. You can also check with local building supply outlets for names of possible candidates. Once you have some contractors in mind, it is important to conduct an interview. Ask the contractor about their specialties, warranties, and references. When it comes to contacting references, the contractor will give you a list of satisfied clients. Be sure to speak with each client and ask detailed questions. Was the site cleaned up or did the owner have to dispose of the refuse? Were there any delays? Was the contractor easy to deal with? The answers to questions like these will be invaluable tools for making the final decision.
When speaking with contractors, don’t be shy to discuss fees in great detail. Typically, contractors charge clients in one of three common ways: cost-plus basis, fixed fees, and a percentage of base cost. For most customers, a fixed fee is the way to go because you know exactly how much the project will cost. If a contractor works on a percentage of base cost, ask for a cost breakdown of the estimate, and be sure to keep careful track as the work progresses. You don’t want the contractor to use a cost overrun to their advantage when working on a percentage. To make the best decision, it is important to know and understand a contractor’s fee structure.
By this point, your selection of contractors should be narrowed down. Before the final decision can be made, you need to know their bids. Give the top three candidates a copy of your plan and preference of materials. Allow them two to three weeks to respond to your requests. If you find bids are close, the most important consideration may not be price at all. A bid from a contractor who is easy to deal with and inspires confidence may be preferable to the cheapest contractor if a personality conflict is possible.
Now that you have made a decision, the last step requires you to ask for a contract from the contractor or create one yourself. The contract can be informal, or for a small fee it can be formal. A good contract should include: plans of work to be done, contractor’s certification of insurance (for workman’s compensation, damages, and liability), a rider stating all changes must be submitted and approved in writing, and a list of materials. Please note, the materials list should contain a clause that will not allow substitutions to be made. By having this contract in hand, you can increase your peace of mind that the project will be completed in the manner you desire.
|«Go back to Project Files|