Choosing A Building Contractor
Embarking on a home building, remodeling or renovation project
a stressful event. One task that can make the rest of the project
less stressful is taking the time and care in selecting both your
designer and building contractor.
Contractors are the foundation of residential construction. The
majority of them are honest, hardworking, talented individuals,
however, there are many contractors performing substandard work
with a take the money and run approach to building contracts.
Locating a Qualified Building Contractor.
There are a number of places to find a good builder:
- References from friends and colleagues you trust to have the
same standards as you.
- Finding them on current building sites, where you have been
able to observe both the practices and quality of building.
- Through a referral organisation such as Contractors-Licence.org
Qualifying Your Prospects
Once you have identified a number of qualified building contractors,
you must qualify that they are suited to the type of work you plan.
The following Building Contractor Profile is like
a quality control checklist. It may seem rather comprehensive, but
you are not asking anything that would be unexpected. I find it
best just to email them the following form and ask them to complete
- License and Registration Number
- Worker's Compensation Insurance
- Bond and Liability Insurance
- Will they sign a Lien Waiver?
- Number of years in business
- References - Last 6 projects - include any relevant relationship
- Statement of Financial Stability
- Crew and how long each has worked for them
- Preferred Market Niche: custom, spec, or service
- Adequate crew for size of job
- Adequate supervision for size of job
- Preferred Change Order method
- Preferred method of payment
Other Items to check yourself are:
- Certification & Registration - Check local state certification
agencies – for example, in the Pacific Northwest region,
you can determine if the individual or business is currently state-certified
and/or registered on the
Washington State Department of Labor and Industries web site
- Credit standing with suppliers
- Any previous arbitrations - American Arbitration Association
web site http://www.adr.org/.
- Availability: Do they use a cellphone, answering machine, Voice
mail, Email, Beeper. Nothing is more frustrating than not being
able to easily communicate with key personnel in any project.
- Market Niche: custom, spec, or service previous contracts were
Check the following with Designers, Building Inspectors and Other
- Cost consciousness - have they demonstrated any lower cost
alternatives which do not result in compromised quality? Do they
order material quantities and return for credit unused portions
- which are then credited against your account.
- Fair prices and payment schedule
- Quality of rough work - this is inside the walls, but a good
guide is to look under stairs and under countertops in bathrooms
and kitchens. Take a peek in the ceiling space if you can get
- Quality of finish work - this will be evident by looking at
- Success with inspections - this should be on public record
and your local building regulators
- Cooperation with other trades - look for body language when
their name is mentioned. You often learn more about what is NOT
said that what is said.
- Relationship between lead and crew - the quality of the crew
often represents the quality of the contractor - good and bad!
From Previous Contracts
- Did they begin on schedule?
- Did they end on schedule?
- Awareness of material waste
- Relationship with client
- Responsiveness to problems
- Clean-up procedures
- Promptness on callbacks
Never sign a blank agreement form or make any cash advance payment.
Incorporate the American Arbitration Association Construction
Industry Dispute Resolution Procedures into your contract. They
provide a standard ADR Clause for your review and consideration.
Consult with a local lawyer familiar with construction contract
law before finalizing your agreement.
Back to Top | PROJECT
MANAGEMENT INDEX | Home
More Building Project Management
Using A Designer As Project Manager
A Building Contractor
Types of Building