HOW TO CHOOSE A CONTRACTOR
Building, renovating or remodeling your home is personal. That’s why the selection of your
General Contractor should be based on many considerations.
Foremost among these is compatibility – you will be working together for an extended period of time with your builder, so it is critical that you get along well. The building process can be stressful and an amicable working relationship with your contractor will help to smooth the journey.
In the end, a vital aspect of any successful construction project is teamwork between owner, contractor, and architects/designers. Good communication is vital to teamwork. Choose a builder who you can talk to easily.
Trust is just as important as compatibility. If you don’t or can’t trust your contractor your experience will be based on fear and mistrust and ultimately lead to poor decisions. You want to trust your builder to guide you through some occasionally complex challenges, and know that he has your best interests in mind.
A solid foundation is the key to building a successful home - a solid reputation is the key to building a successful company. Over time, a quality builder will have garnered the recognition of his peers. A good builder will be recommended by previous clients, architects, designers, sub contractors and other building professionals. This recognition may also be in the form of awards or published projects. These acknowledgements are the building blocks of trust. If other people had a positive experience with a prospective builder, it stands to reason that you will too. At least it’s a good place to start.
All buildings are not created equal and all builders do not create equally. Don’t take a prospective contractors word about the quality of his or her work. A picture is worth a thousand words. Check out their website or portfolio. Ask to see some of their projects in progress. Are their jobsites clean and organized? If possible, ask to see some completed projects.
A quality builder will have the key personnel in place to supervise the job and oversee the work in progress. A conscientious builder combined with a properly supervised job is the best way to assure a quality product.
BEST VALUE VS. LOWEST PRICE
While price is important, you don’t always get the best builder or the best deal based on price. A building is no different than anything else you buy- you get what you pay for.
The bidding process is flawed at best. Most of the horror stories you hear about in construction started with a low bidder. Unless every detail of your project is specified, from fixtures to finishes, it leaves it up to each bidder to determine the level of quality of the products being used to construct your home.
The “best value” is not likely to be the “lowest price”. Because they are competing for the job, prospective bidders are not inclined to select products that will inflate their price. It is also common that the low bidder has omitted elements, either intentionally or otherwise, that the other bidders have included. This is not always evident on the estimate and unsuspecting clients are often subjected to many costly “change orders” after the contract is signed. It is better to find the builder who you feel is the best value and negotiate a fee with that contractor.
We all have heard the expression “There is more than one way to skin a cat”. A knowledgeable builder can help guide you to less expensive ways to accomplish the same end. This is called “value engineering”. It can occasionally turn an out of reach dream into a realization. It is an invaluable part of the building process.
DO YOUR HOMEWORK
Longevity – How long has your prospective builder been in business?
Have there been numerous complaints against the contractor?
Has he kept the same name and same location for a substantial period of time?
These questions can be answered by researching online at the Department of Business and Professional Regulation @ www.myfloridalicense.com.
Ask for and check references from potential contractors bidding your job. Opinions of past clients, as well as building professionals, will help you make an informed decision when choosing your General Contractor.
NEGOTIATE A CONTRACT
Interview potential contractors, see who you are comfortable with and negotiate a contract. By following the guidelines above you will be giving yourself the best chance at a successful building experience.