Selecting your Contractor
The easiest, and one of the best ways to select a possible contractor, is to get references from friends, family or a Realtor you trust. When this is not possible it is time to search for a contractor.
Here are some things to consider when selecting a contractor:
State Licensing – Ask to see the license number and check to see if any complaints have been filed.
- Insurance – Workers compensation and general liability policies; ask to see certificates and make sure policies are up to date.
- References – Always ask for them.
- Knowledge – Does the contractor know about the materials, building codes, and different options for completion of the project?
- Experience – Does the contractor specialize in the work you want to have completed?
- Jobsite visit – Can you visit current or previous jobsites?
- Warranty – Does the contractor offer a warranty on workmanship? How about material?
- Communication – Does the contractor clearly communicate with you? Are you able to reach the contractor when needed?
- Salesperson – Is the salesperson involved in the build process? Or will there be a risk that your concerns and desires for the build not be communicated?
- Schedule – Is there a schedule commitment or timeline from start to finish?
- Punctual – Was the contractor on time?
- Payment – Does the contractor accept credit cards or offer financing options?
- Permit – Will the contractor pull the permit for you? They should.
- Personable – Do you have “chemistry” with the contractor? Does the contractor display a high level of professionalism?
Courtesy, respect, punctuality, and the ability to communicate are some of the most important attributes a contractor can have; next to basic competency.
- Get more than one estimate
- Ask about different materials and their benefits/cost
- Obtain design drawings
- Don’t sign a contract until you are comfortable with the contractor and project
- Make sure when comparing estimates that you compare “apples to apples”
- Get all estimates in writing on a professional form, this says a lot about your contractor.
- Review payment options and start time.
- Does the contractor listen to your ideas?
Most contactors will try very hard to give you what you want at the price you want to pay. They will even find cheap products and inexpensive subcontractors to help you meet your budget. Be careful what you ask for and how you ask for it. Remember that the bid is only the starting point in your negotiations with the contractor and not necessarily the bottom line.
Keep in mind that the lowest bid may not necessarily be the best bid, and that an unusually low bid may be cause for concern. In this case the contractor may not fully understand the scope of work, may be inexperienced and is underestimating the amount of labor and materials required, or may be planning to cut corners by using inferior materials, low-paid inexperienced workers, or not following local building codes. You could end up paying to repair or replace work much sooner than if your project was done correctly the first time with qualified workers and quality materials.
Think about this: