Which Contractor is Right For Your Unique Construction Project?
Finding a contractor is one of the most important steps in starting your construction project. Consumer Reports recommends starting with online review sites, just to get an idea of what clients are saying about contractors in your area. Next, if you know anyone who has built on a home addition, patio or new home, you may want to ask them for advice on the general contractors that used for the project. Then, it’s time to get serious.
Talk to a Minimum of Three Contractors
Don’t settle for the best contractor on paper. Interview at least three contractors to make sure they have experience with the type of construction project you’re undertaking. Remember to ask the right questions. Are you building a new shed, barn or garage? If your construction project requires poured concrete, electrical work or plumbing, you need a licensed general contractor who can pull the required permits.
Also, you can vet out the best contractor in the world, but if they are booked up for the next six months, it won’t do you a bit of good. Add availability to your list of questions.
Choose the Right Contractor for Your Unique Project
You might have to do a little research to speak the lingo. Someone who lays perfectly level tiles might not know a thing about pouring concrete. So, a concrete specialist would know how to test concrete harness and where to find concrete cylinders for sale. Conversely, a tile and grout expert should be able to point you in the right direction for the type of tiles you want to install. Don’t waste your money on inexperienced contractors.
Check Licenses and Insurance
Ask for copies of licensure and insurance for the general contractors and subcontractors they employ. Remember that the requirements for licensing vary from state to state. The Better Business Bureau and local court records can help you determine if the contractor has had issues with former clients — depending on the complaint, this could raise some red flags.
Ask for references from previous clients and call them. An online review can’t tell you everything you need to know about the way the contractor works. Do they pull the required permits? Did they finish previous projects on time?
Here are some tips for negotiating with the contractor and protecting your interests:
- Ask for a detailed contract that includes the scope of work and itemized work orders
- The contract should include the materials, labor and costs
- Don’t pay more than 10% before the job starts
If you pay too much upfront and problems arise down the road, you could end up losing money. Don’t let your money go to complete someone else’s project. Expensive materials may require a higher deposit but negotiate the money you put down as low as possible.
During the job, stay in touch with the contractor and subcontractor at varying points along the way.
By finding the right contractor for your unique job, you can avoid many of the pitfalls associated with less-reputable contractors. However, you shouldn’t make the final payment until you are 100% happy with the job. Include this in the payment schedule so there are no hard feelings at the end of the project.