Hiring the right contractor can make or break your project so it pays to spend the time up front to ensure you are working with someone that is qualified and reputable.
Start by getting referrals from friends and associates, as well as, other contractors you may have a relationship with and building suppliers. Find people that are engaged in the industry and ask their opinions. If you know of a property that is being worked on, stop and talk to the contractor. This will give you a chance to see their work first hand. Once you have several potential candidates follow the steps below.
Specifications and Materials
The best way to get what you want is to spell out every detail in writing and make it part of the contract. Remember, anything that is left out will become an extra and may end up costing you a lot more. It is also important to make sure that you are comparing apples to apples when getting bids from contractors. If they have to make assumptions because you have not given them the exact details you will not get a valid comparison because the assumptions will seldom be the same.
Whether you are drawing the plans yourself or using a professional designer you will need to create a detailed list of specifications and materials to be used on your project. This should spell out the construction methods to be used and anything that is not clearly indicated by the drawings, as well as, a detailed list of the exact sizes and quality of materials to be used along with size, model number and manufacturer of fixtures and individual elements such as doors, cabinets, windows, etc.
Get Bids in Writing
Once you have created your plans and specifications you can now get bids on your project. You should get at least three or more bids for any job. The more bids you get the more you can be sure what the job should cost. Again, make sure to give each contractor identical plans so that you can make apples to apples comparisons.
Any changes should be communicated in writing to each bidder. The lowest bid is not always the best bid. They may have forgotten to include something in their calculations or they may be bidding low just to get the job and will try to increase the bid through changes along the way or may just walk away when they start to lose money.
Get references of previous customers, subcontractors and suppliers. Verify that work was done to specification and on time and that subs and suppliers were paid in a timely fashion.
The Final Contract
Once you have chosen the winning bidder you will need to get a written contract that is clear and leaves no room for confusion as to what is expected. The contract should include:
Detailed plans and description of work to be done by the contractor (as well as any work you will perform) including provisions for clearing debris from the site.
Type and quality (grade) of materials to be used. (Described above).
Construction materials to be used (Construction Portable Heaters, Drills, etc.).
Total cost of work.
Schedule of payments: The amount of payments and when they will be made.
Retention Clause (A retention clause requires that a certain percentage, such as 10%, of the cost is held back until satisfactory completion).
Schedule of approximate dates when work will begin and be completed.
Completion Clause Penalty if dates are not met.
Close-out clause showing how contract may be terminated if things aren’t working out.
Property Lien Provisions making the contractor responsible for obtaining lien releases from subcontractors and suppliers so you don’t end up with liens against the property or having to pay for things twice if the contractor doesn’t pay them. You may also consider requiring a completion bond which would provide money to finish the project if the contractor fails to complete the job or pay the subs and suppliers.