How to Get the Most Out of a Building Contractor
Take the right steps and get the best results
By Glyn Sheridan
The right approach can help you work with your contractor to get the best results. When you hire a contractor, you want to receive quality work in a timely manner and at a reasonable price. Most building projects require a substantial investment from the homeowner so it's only natural to want to get the most return for your money. While there are no guarantees, there are steps you can take to improve your chances of getting your building contractor to do a satisfactory job for you.
- What You Need to Know
- Get references for your contractor as well as their business license number and a copy of their insurance policy.
- Keep a calendar of material purchases and signed lien releases from the contractor and his or her subcontractors before you make a final payment.
Call your contractor's references. Too often, potential customers ask for a list of references but they do not make contact. By talking to former clients, you can discover if your contractor does acceptable work, if he hires quality subcontractors and if he completes the job on time and within budget. You'll also gain insight into your contractor's approach, which can help you work more effectively with him or her.
Pay for materials directly if your contractor wants a check before work starts. Some material suppliers insist upon payment on delivery of their materials, but most contractors have professional accounts with suppliers that allow them to pay for the materials within a couple of weeks or a month. If a contractor must have the money to buy the materials, he or she may not have paid an outstanding balance from a previous account. Offer to order the materials yourself and pay the supplier directly.
Set a payment schedule based upon stages of completed work. Avoid schedules based upon time periods, such $10,000 every two weeks. A better idea is to pay when the builder finishes a phase of construction, such as the framing, drywall installation, roofing or interior finish and upon completion of the project. This ensures that you're getting the work you're paying for.
Get a written copy of your builder's warranty before the project starts. If the contractor says that he or she guarantees their work for a specific period, ask for that in writing unless it is already in your contract.
Add items to the project only if you have a signed Change Order. You may get a rude awakening if you tell your contractor to complete additional work without getting a price for the work. Anytime you want to add to or alter the project, a Change Order will let you know just how much more it will cost to do so.
Inspect the project regularly. You may not know if the workers are installing the wiring or ducting correctly, but you will know if there are gaps between doors and their frames and if something that should be level, isn't. Ask questions if you think something is wrong, and talk to your local housing inspector if you suspect the builder is not completing your project safely or up to code.
Withhold the final payment until you have a signed lien release from every subcontractor who worked on your project and every material supplier. Without the releases, the builder or his or her subcontractors may come back and file a lien against your home for additional payment.
About the Author
Glyn Sheridan is a regular contributor to DexKnows.
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