How to Choose a Building Contractor
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Published by TOP4 Team
At some point or another, you will need the services of a building contractor. Sure, there are some types of work that you can go the DIY route for, allowing you to save money. However, there are certain jobs which entail expertise and the use of specialist equipment, and your best recourse would be to hire a contractor. Getting professional help will allow you to achieve the results you want in a prompt manner, and according to the level of workmanship you need.
But how do you choose the right building contractor to work with?
The best place to start is to get recommendations from the people you trust: relatives, friends, co-workers. Alternatively, you can talk to your local building inspector or the staff at the local hardware store. The advantage of getting recommendations from local hardware stores and lumberyards is you'll know which contractors pick quality materials and which ones pay on time.
Interview the prospective contractors
Ideally, you should draw up a shortlist of potential contractors to work with instead of hiring the first one you meet.
Once you have drawn up your list, the next order of business is to interview each one via phone. During the interview process, you'd like to learn about the contractor's experience, the amount of projects they undertake simultaneously, their past clients and financial references. Your goal is to ascertain the firm's reliability, attention to detail and ability to communicate.
Schedule a personal meeting
Once you have narrowed down your candidates to three to four contractors, you should schedule a face-to-face meeting with each one of them. This will give you a better opportunity to assess the personality of each contractor. A reputable contractor can satisfactorily answer your questions while establishing good rapport. Remember, you are going to work with your contractor for a long period of time and if you do not like the personality of the one you choose, this can adversely affect the progress of the project.
Do a background check
To help you whittle down your list further, the next thing that you need to do is to perform a background check on each contractor by talking to past clients. Listen to what they have to say about each contractor and check the results they have achieved.
Another important step that will allow you to narrow down your choices even more is to get bids from every contractor in contention. Each bid should contain a breakdown of all the expenses involved including labour and material costs.
A caveat on pricing
As the old adage goes, you get what you pay for. It may be tempting to opt for the lowest bidder; however, be mindful that it is possible that a contractor may be asking for a lower price simply because he may take shortcuts. Remember, it is more important to get the results you actually want instead of scrimping on quality.
Write it down
Once you have found a reputable contractor to work with, make sure to put into writing all the important details including the payment schedule, insurance, project timeline and turnover. Make sure to put in a stipulation about project changes or additional work.