1) Get Recommendations:

Start with friends and family first. They are the people you trust the most.

Check in with various licensing and trade organizations for a list of qualified contractors in your area, you may talk with a local building official who will know which contractors routinely meet code requirements as well.

Pay a visit to your local lumberyard, which sees contractors regularly and knows which ones buy quality materials and pay their bills on time.


2) Complete Phone Interviews:

Gather a list of your recommended contractors and ask them the following questions:

  • Do they take on projects of your size?

  • Are they willing to provide financial references from suppliers or banks?

  • Can they give you a list of previous clients?

  • How many other projects would they have going at the same time?

  • How long have they worked with their subcontractors?


The answers to these questions will reveal the company’s availability, reliability, how much attention they’ll be able to give your project, and how smoothly the work will go.


3) Meet Face to Face:

Following the completion of phone interviews, it is time to meet your top 3-4 contenders in person. This is important to get a feel of how you work with your top selected contractors.

Communication is the most important aspect in a professional relationship. If you do not communicate well, then your project will not be completed the way you are imagining in your ideal vision.

However - don’t let personality be the only leg you stand on.

Check in with your state’s consumer protection agency and local Better Business Bureau to make sure contractors don’t have a bad history of disputes with clients or subcontractors.


4) Investigate the Facts

Now that you have gotten a feel for how you interact with each person, you should get down to the black and white facts.

Contact former clients of each prospect to evaluate how each project went and ask to see the finished product.

A step that you could take further is to visit a current job site and see for yourself how the contractor works.

  • Is the job site neat and safe?

  • Are workers courteous and careful with the owner’s property?


5) Make Plans, Get Bids

It is time to look forward to your own project in the making!

It is important to select a contractor that goes through every detail with you to ensure they are giving you exactly what you would want in a home. This could include a complete set of blueprints, full length discussion, and notes of what you want built and how much you want to spend.

Ask every individual to break down the cost of materials, labor, profit margins, and other expenses that could be factored in so there are no surprise expenses.


6) Set a Payment Schedule

How a contractor handles payment schedules speak volumes of what their financial status and work ethic is like.

A possible red flag could be if they are wanting half of the bid up front. This may indicate they have financial problems or are worried that you will not pay the rest of the money after you’ve seen the work.

For large projects a schedule usually starts with:

  • 10 percent at contract signing

  • Three payments of 25 percent evenly spaced over the duration of the project

  • A check for the final 15 percent when you feel everything you asked for has been finished


7) Don’t Let Price Be Your Only Guide

Like you’ve always heard, you get what you pay for. That means the lowest price might not be what you are looking for.

Checking off everything you are looking for in a contractor is important. This could include price, but also needs to include aspects such as: comfort, communication, craftsmanship, and previous work that is similar to what you are wanting in your own project.

All things being equal, it is better to spend more to hire someone that brings your vision to life just the way you imagined it - or better.


8) Put it in Writing

A contract should be created listing all the details that you and your contractor discussed in your plan. Some of these things could include:

  • Payment schedule

  • Proof of liability insurance and worker’s compensation payments

  • Start date and projected completion date

  • Specific materials and products to be used

  • A requirement that the contractor obtain lien releases (which protects you if he doesn’t pay his bills) from all subcontractors and suppliers

A clear and concise contract is promising you a successful project. So don’t be afraid to make it perfect down to the very last punctuation mark.


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