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Aug 21
2007

On Selecting a Contractor


Posted by C. Mason Hearn in select contractor, contractors
I am quite certain that all of our readers have seen an article on this at some time or another.  Every source will have some different “take” on it.  So here it is from this contractor’s perspective.

 

First, let me say that my firm does NOT try to be everything to everybody.  Just because it’s a repair or remodeling job, we don’t necessarily think we should be your contractor.  We’re looking for a “good fit” between us, our prospective client, and the project and process they have in mind.  I think that the client should be looking for the same.  If everyone is honest with each other in that regard, the rest should be easy.  What does this mean?

 

First, look for bonding and good repoire.  Do you and the contractor connect, understand each other, and communicate well?  Not just with the salesman or the Owner – I think you should meet the folks that will do your job.  Ask to talk to the person in charge of production; ask to meet a carpenter or project manager.  If the work includes design, meet those folks, too.  This will give you a good feel for the people you will be dealing with, and how easily you might communicate.  That’s going to be super-important over the course of your relationship.

 

Ask about the contractor’s processes.  Naturally, you are looking for a well-thought-out, organized step-by-step of how the contractor does business.  Most folks might not trust in a builder that’s “shooting from the hip” to get through the complexities of a new construction or remodeling project. 

 

More importantly, and perhaps a bit more obscure (I have not seen this suggestion in any other “selecting a contractor” article), does the manner by which this contractor conducts business fit comfortably with your vision of how it should be done?  Let’s say a contractor only does negotiated work on a cost-plus basis.  You were thinking that you would be more comfortable with multiple bids, and a fixed price.  Walk away.  Let’s say this contractor is a structured organization offering plenty of service and the overhead to go with it, but you are more interested in keeping the price low, and envision the Owner of the company swinging a hammer on your job.  It’s just not a fit.

 

How about the service?  What can you expect?  Don’t take the contractor’s word for it, ask for references, call them and (knowing most anyone can come up with a few fans, who are certainly used as references) dig deeper.  Find a present or past client that is NOT on the list and talk with them.  Getting these contacts are relatively easy.  Where’s he working now?  Talk to them.  Web search for past building permits.  Talk to them.  Ask “have you ever done a job similar to this, somebody that’s not listed on your reference list?”  Talk to them.  You’ll know in a few minutes, what your experience will likely be.

 

This is a start.  There’s obviously more, which we’ll address in upcoming postings.

 

Mason






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