Whether you are building a new home or remodeling your existing home, selecting the right contractor is the single most important decision you will make. Selecting the right builder can mean the difference between creating a dream home and a nightmare of spiraling costs.
Know what you Want
Work with your designer to make detailed plans of what needs to be done. Knowing where you are going will help your builder give you a comprehensive quote and leave enough time for the job to be done.
Detailed plans will mean there is less room for errors or misunderstandings. Always get everything in writing—this protects both you and your builder.
Your plans should include all the jobs that need to be done including a list of site preparation and cleanup work so you aren’t left with unforeseen expenses.
Preparation will include getting any permits that need to be obtained and inspecting any dangerous areas or hazardous materials on site.
Make a List, Check it Twice
Make a list of criteria for choosing a contractor. You should include experience and qualifications, time, cost and attention to recycling and eco-friendly disposal of building materials. Be sure to check referrals to ensure that your contractor has done a similar job elsewhere and that their previous clients are happy with their work.
Ask your friends and family members, your designer or architect for referrals. You can also ask your building inspector which contractors do the best job. Check that your contractor is licensed and with the Better Business Bureau to ensure that there are no complaints listed against your builder.
You should get at least three quotes for your job. Don’t be surprised if they are vastly different as contractors may choose to use different criteria to quote. Stipulating exactly what you want in the quote will help to eliminate this problem.
If you have made a list of all the tasks you want done, there should be no hidden costs, but discuss this with your contractor to ensure that there are no nasty surprises. Remember that changing your mind about design features will add to the expenses and your contractor cannot be held to their original quote should you alter the plans during the build.
You must also take into account that the cost of building materials may change from the time that the quote is issued to when the materials are actually purchased. You should rely on your builder’s advice for most of the materials, but do your homework too. For example, using ICFs is cost effective, sustainable and environmentally friendly. ICFs reduce construction time, reduce labor costs and provide the highest level of performance for building materials. Knowing what materials will offer you the best value for money will mean you get the most out of your project.
It’s important to ask your contractor if they have other jobs on the go during your build time and what their contingency plans are should delays occur. Discuss payment schedules so you agree on how much money will be paid and when.
Ensure that your builder and all sub-contractors are properly insured. If accidents occur on the jobsite, you don’t want to be left with the bills.
Choosing the right contractor does take time and forward planning, but it will be well worth the effort.