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Tips for Hiring a Builder or Contractor

Selecting the right building professional to work with during the construction of your new home can be a very daunting task. It is necessary to find the right builder or contractor for your home building project to ensure success. It is highly unlikely that your building project will not encounter a few bumps along the way, but a qualified building professional is essential in keeping these problems to a minimum and solving those that arise. You must feel your builder is someone you are comfortable with and a person you can place faith in to build your home. Below is a list of tips to help you hire the right builder or contractor.

  • Thoroughly research potential builders. Check with friends, family members and local building or home improvement centers. Friends and family members will be able to give you firsthand accounts of their building experiences. Those who work in the building supply industry work with building professionals on a daily basis. These people will be able to tell you about the various construction jobs different building professionals work on and prefer. It is necessary to find qualified and reputable builder that you work well with.
  • Hire licensed professionals. Verify that they are insured. Request copies of any licenses and insurance documents. Do the same for any subcontractors. Keep in mind that having a licensed contractor means you have leverage. He will correct any mistakes or problems that arise rather than risk losing his license.
  • Know exactly what you want before construction begins and communicate your wants and needs to your building professional. If you do not know what you want, it is likely you will not be happy with what you get. If you change your mind about what you want after construction begins, the contract and the price will change causing delays in the schedule and additional expenses.
  • Ask for everything in writing. Request a detailed estimate for the job. Be sure it includes fees for materials and labor. Check to see that all materials are included, as well as, specifics such as brand names, sizes, styles, colors, etc.
  • Request a projected starting and completion date. Be sure any deadlines are clearly outlined in writing. If your home must be finished by June 10th be sure it is stated in the contract.
  • Expect problems and difficulties. No construction job runs smoothly 100%. Some problems include late delivery of materials, employees quitting and weather delays. Be sure the builder allows time in the construction schedule for delays. It is no secret that weather delays happen on a regular basis when building during the winter months. Be sure the building professional factors an allowance for the weather and any other unexpected problems into the building schedule. If no difficulties arise, you will be pleasantly surprised when your home is finished ahead of schedule.
  • Add a motivational clause to the contract. If June 10th is the finish date you agreed upon with the contractor or builder, then your safety net will be adding something like, "$500 per day will be deducted from the contract price for each day the job remains unfinished after June 10th."
  • Find out how subcontractors are to be paid for their services. Will the contractor pay them or will you be responsible for paying them?
  • Avoid paying too much up front. It is not unreasonable to pay a portion of the price up front to cover material costs, but it is not a good idea to pay in full until the project has been completed.
  • Jobsites are messy places. Do not expect your builder or contractor to keep the jobsite neat and tidy. Instead, verify that the contract clearly states the contractor is responsible for cleaning up the jobsite when construction is finished.
  • Do not expect your contract to prevent problems. If you are not cooperative or the contractor is unreasonable to work with, your problems will grow. Delays and difficulties occur during construction projects that cannot possibly be listed in the contract. Again, it is necessary to have an allowance in the schedule for such delays.

You can never be too prepared when beginning the construction process. Put as much care into hiring your building professional as you did into shopping for the perfect house plan. It is essential that you find a building professional you can work with. The long-term benefits will be worth it.

For additional information, please read Choosing a Contractor.

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