to Hire a Contractor
we mentioned before, we are familiar with the abilities and
reputations of contractors in the Rocky Mountain region. We
share long-standing working relationships with several well-qualified,
professional contractors, which helps ensure reliability and
if you choose to do the legwork of finding a well-qualified
contractor yourself, here some recommendations for finding
the right one for your project:
Start with your friends and family and then check in with
the National Association of the Remodeling Industry for a
list of members in your area. You can also talk with a building
inspector, who'll know which contractors routinely meet code
requirements, says This Old House general contractor Tom Silva,
or pay a visit to your local lumberyard, which sees contractors
regularly and knows which ones buy quality materials and pay
their bills on time.
Once you've assembled a list, Tom recommends that you make
a quick call to each of your prospects and ask them the following
they take on projects of your size?
Are they willing to provide financial references, from suppliers
Can they give you a list of previous clients?
How many other projects would they have going at the same
How long have they worked with their subcontractors?
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.
Meet face to face
Based on the phone interviews, pick three or four contractors
to meet for estimates and further discussion. A contractor
should be able to answer your questions satisfactorily and
in a manner that puts you at ease. Tom says that it's crucial
that you two communicate well because this person will be
in your home for hours at a time. On the other hand, don't
let personality fool you. Check in with your state's consumer
protection agency and your local Better Business Bureau to
make sure contractors don't have a history of disputes with
clients or subcontractors.
Now that you've narrowed your list, put your research to use.
Call up former clients to find how their project went and
ask to see the finished product. But Tom says you shouldn't
rely on results alone. Even more important, 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 homeowner's property?
plans, get bids
A conscientious contractor will want a complete set of bidding
documents, which is typically prepared by us, the architects.
We can also can help you determine which bid may give you
the best value in terms of the contractor’s reputation,
expertise, quality of work and reliability. Generally materials
account for 40 percent of the total cost; the rest covers
overhead and the typical profit margin, which is 15 to 20
can help you evaluate a contractor by using a standard Contractor’s
Qualification Statement, available through the local AIA chapter,
to verify the contractor’s background, history, references
and financial stability. This form provides a sworn, notarized
statement with appropriate attachments to assess important
aspects of the contractor’s qualifications.
a payment schedule
Payment schedules can also speak to a contractor's financial
status and work ethic. If they want half the bid up front,
they may have financial problems or be worried that you won't
pay the rest 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 and a check for the final 15 percent when you
feel every item on the punch list has been completed.
let price be your guide
Throw out the lowball bid. This contractor is probably cutting
corners or, worse, desperate for work— hardly an encouraging
sign. Beyond technical competence, comfort should play an
equal or greater role in your decision. The single most important
factor in choosing a contractor is how well you and he communicate.
All things being equal, it's better to spend more and get
someone you're comfortable with.
it in writing
Draw up a contract that details every step of the project:
payment schedule; proof of liability insurance and worker's
compensation payments; a start date and projected completion
date; specific materials and products to be used; and a requirement
that the contractor obtain lien releases (which protect you
if he doesn't pay his bills) from all subcontractors and suppliers.
Insisting on a clear contract isn't about mistrust, Tom assures
us. It's about insuring a successful renovation.
remember that as soon as a change is made or a problem uncovered,
the price just increased and the project just got longer.
Good contractors factor these surprises or inevitable delays
into the original price, however, be prepared for the possibility
of paying a little more than you originally thought you would.
See samples of our work >>>