How to Choose a Contractor


The starting point to getting a contractor to bid your project is to hire a professional drafting service to create a set of construction plans. The set of plans allows the contractor to understand the project and give the most accurate quote. Also, most contractors will not bid a project without a set of plans.

Once you have obtained a set of plans, you will want to send them to multiple contractors to ensure that you are getting the best bang for your buck. We suggest meeting with the contractors that fit your budget the best to make sure that you will get along with the contractor. Making sure that your personalities do not clash will help your project go more smoothly.

After you have found a contractor that fits the budget and seems like a good fit for the project, it is time to discuss the billing terms. You should make sure that you feel comfortable with the contractor's billing terms. Paying huge deposits up front is NOT industry standard. A contractor can only ask for 15% up front by law. Also, to ensure that your progress payments are being used in a timely manner, you should go with your contractor to order materials and have them delivered directly to the project site.

Also, a good general contractor will have a crew that he/she hires to help complete the project. There is no such thing as a jack of all trades. A specialty contractor should be hired to complete each specialty task, meaning that a plumbing contractor should be hired to install the plumbing or an electrical contractor should be hired to install the electrical. It is also important to check to make sure the contractors who are bidding your project have a valid contractors license and liability insurance. He/she should be able to provide you with paperwork proving the insurance, and you can check their licensure by typing in their name or business name on:

https://www2.cslb.ca.gov/onlineservices/CheckLicenseII/checklicense.aspx

(Contractors have to register with the state, so if you are located outside of California, search, "how to check a contractor's license in (insert state name)", and you should find a similar page.)

Scheduling is always important for anyone's project. You should make a tentative schedule for the project with the contractor so you know that you both are on the same page. However, in construction, there is usually some kind of setback whether it is weather or a material didn't come in on time, make sure that you understand the ramifications of that schedule delay. Also in construction, there is usually some type of unexpected cost impact; you should make sure that there is a buffer in your budget to allow for such things. The size of the buffer should vary depending on the size of the project.

Clear and concise communication is very important to sustaining a good relationship with your contractor throughout the project. A good set of plans for your contractor to work from is also very important. Hiring a good team all around is the most important responsibility of the homeowner or project manager, as the team will be what makes the project a mess or makes the project a success.

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