The Official Guide To Contractor Selection
You've spent countless hours scouting, researching, comparing, testing, designing, and signing stacks of papers.
You've secured the PERFECT parcel in the PERFECT location and have your plans in hand! The time has finally come to build or renovate your next home or business. Super exciting!
But, before we start sipping mimosas by the swimming pool in our new backyard paradise, let's begin by setting a budget and discussing the qualities to look for when deciding on who you want to hire to complete this project and how to find them.
1. Did You Get Qualified For A Construction Loan? Are You Using Savings?
Before having your project bid on, first, decide how much money you have to work with. Construction costs can add up quickly and there are guaranteed to be expenses that aren't considered at the forefront. It's common for home/ business owners to decide on certain features of their project and then choose to make upgrades (that aren't included in the contract) during the process. Better cabinets, different paint, landscaping, appliances. It's also best to be realistic about what amenities and design choices you can't live without when you're on a budget.
Allow some "wiggle room" with resources. If you get approved for $200,000 that doesn't necessarily mean you should commit to a $200,000 project. Set aside a certain percentage for incidentals.
2. Beware Of "Too Good To Be True." It Probably Is.
When considering what you'd like the bottom line of your build to be, it's important to take into consideration the current state of material costs and availability based on the pandemic. While some products are still readily available at a moderate cost, others are more difficult to acquire and the price is considerably higher than pre-pandemic prices. For a great contractor, they'll be able to adequately adjust the budget and plan for these things within reason. The same goes for accessibility to construction teams. (Concrete, drywall, paint, electrical, plumbing, etc). Long gone are the times of 60-day home builds.
If you're looking to hire a specific company and they seem a little too gung-ho with their low bid (or super short timeline guarantee) be wary of a scam and/or shoddy work. This brings me to my next point:
3. How To Find The Right Contractor For Your Project.
Just like every person has a different personality, contractors are people, too. It's important to find one with a personality type that meshes well with your own. A great contractor should be respectful, considerate, and no-nonsense.
Ah, the idea of someone cutting up with you, being super laid-back, and chatting about the last football game might sound great (if you're looking for a bartender). When we're talking about construction, it's best to avoid someone with this business style. A reputable contractor generally has several projects going at once and doesn't have time for small talk. That's a great sign! One that can make big promises and chatty conversation usually means other people don't find their work great enough to hire and neither should you.
Like that old workplace saying "If you have time to lean, you have time to clean." A "leaning" contractor isn't one you'd find very reliable when it comes time to get down to the nitty-gritty. You'll know you have the right person for the job when they share the same enthusiasm for your project as you and they make realistic statements. A great contractor is a warrior. They'll be the one to take the lead and the responsibility. They'll be the one going to battle with different departments and coordinating teams to help build your dreams.
4. Pick Your Warrior (Contractor) Using The EQUIP Method:
Ok, ok... This is construction and we're not on an actual battlefield but the principle is the same. When choosing someone to organize designers, subcontractors, and the codes department- you'll want an EQUIP warrior!
This characteristic speaks for itself. Just as you'd not want a mechanic to fix your plumbing, you'd not want a handyman to build a home or business. There can be people with years of experience in construction but not with your type of project just as there can be rookies with excellent track records specializing in your particular design without much time on the books. Research and weigh these pros and cons accordingly.
Every good contractor will be able to provide pictures and references to previous job sites. You'll want to look at all the ones even semi-relevant to the type of work you're having done.
Mega Bonus: If you find a contractor willing to take you to some current and previous sites and give a tour of the type of work they do.
This is "understanding" in every sense of the word. You'll want someone who understands the investment you're making and your plans, designs, the mechanics of how to make your dream become a reality, and your fear, reservations, and desires. Once you find someone who understands all of these things, you'll be able to trust that job will be done the way you want it.
This picks up where the last sentence left off. Your contractor will be responsible for carrying out all of your wishes, and mostly, without you present. The company you choose must be transparent, honest, reliable, and available for a chat when necessary. You'll want to know that they're managing the project with keen oversight even in your absence and ensuring all i's are dotted and t's are crossed.
This goes above and beyond what they're wearing but consider what you'd think a professional to look like? They should be kempt and clean. A nice shirt and jeans are most common with no traces of dirt or construction debris.
They should have a polite smile and affirmative handshake.
When discussing business, they should be calm, asking appropriate questions, and be great listeners. They shouldn't be distracted and display a genuine interest in what you have to say.
5) Where Do I Look For A Contractor?
Well, you're here so hopefully, that means you'll choose All Professional Construction! However, we acknowledge that you need options and to be secure in this investment toward your future so we're here to help you out!
Start first by cruising around town and looking at signs on construction projects you find appealing or curious.
Ask friends, coworkers, and acquaintances who they used. For the majority of small to midsize construction companies, word-of-mouth is the most effective and prevalent marketing strategy.
Since these companies usually lack a large online presence due to the fact they spend all their time directly serving their clients, it's best to reach out to actual references to get a real view of who the company is before they're dismissed OR hired based on their internet presence.
A lot of companies pay for fake reviews to make themselves appear higher in Google's search ranking and to win your business. While they may have decent work, this isn't a reliable source of information. The majority of all directory websites boast paid advertisements by companies to make themselves appear the most relevant. While some of this information is accurate, a lot of it is paid for to increase their edge on the competition. Do digging. Do interviews. It also isn't uncommon for competitors and disgruntled clients to leave negative reviews. This is to be expected. According to research, for every negative review, there are usually 10 happy clients before one of them leaves a review.
Now that you have all the tools necessary to start your search for a contractor, check back in a few days for a guide on how to navigate the bidding and contract process.