A construction project is a substantial undertaking. When choosing a construction contractor, it’s important to take a number of factors into consideration to make the best decision for your project. It can seem difficult to make such a decision, as construction contractors seem to be very similar. They are all in the same business, right? What can possibly be so difficult about choosing the right one?
Given the amount of time and resources you’re going to be putting into this project, it only makes sense to hire a construction contractor whose reputation stands on its own. Contractors who are worth their salt meet several criteria to ensure they are offering their clients nothing but the best. These criteria to determine if a construction contractor is reputable include:
Giving a Variety of Options and Alternatives
Plenty of contractors specialize in various types and styles of construction and building, from Tudor style homes to green commercial properties. Any reputable contractor, however, will have completed a wide variety of projects for you to peruse in order to gain confidence in their skills.
This not only ensures that your contractor is familiar with using different materials, substrates, tools and engineering skills but is adept at troubleshooting, making effective decisions and gets the job done efficiently and completely. It also demonstrates their knowledge of permitting and basic property requirements, commercial versus residential spaces, environmental regulations and restrictions, and more.
Understanding That Quality Comes First
Swift completion of a project is desirable, but a reputable contractor never compromises a quality job for speed. Rushing a job may lead to poor results, ultimately requiring rework. A skilled construction contractor prioritizes delivering the highest quality work from the outset. They understand that sacrificing quality for fast results can have long-term consequences, including dissatisfied clients, a tarnished reputation, costly repairs, or additional remodeling.
However, reputable contractors will always try to avoid unnecessary project delays. They are usually in high demand and prioritize efficiency. Therefore, if you’re seeking a quick turnaround, don’t be surprised if they provide a higher estimate. Expedited work demands more skills and resources, and they must compensate their teams accordingly.
Knowing How to Get the Job Done
A reputable contractor knows how to finish your project completely, professionally and in a timely manner. They know how to balance your budget against your desires and are able to accommodate their clients’ needs surprisingly well. Whether this means creating extra office space piece-by-piece to keep the business going during the remodel or finishing the build on a commercial property at lightning speed, good contractors know how to make their clients’ needs and desires mesh effectively.
Getting the job done also means giving a solid, timely estimate in terms of the resources dedicated to the project. It’s hard to have faith that the work being accomplished is up to snuff when the contractor is coming back to the client again and again requesting to push the time expectations out further and further. Good construction contractors know how to give a reasonable timeframe with their initial estimate. This may change as the project does, of course, but reputable contractors can figure out — and stick to — their initial estimates in terms of both time and budget.
Know Who Is Performing the Work
Any contractor who has a solid reputation with their subcontractors keeps them showing up for jobs again and again. Your contractor should be able to tell you who will be on the crews showing up to do the work. A trustworthy contractor also isn’t going to hire subpar subcontractors and other laborers.
Insist on a Detailed Contract
Any worthwhile contractor isn’t going to start work without one. A detailed contract protects your contractor as much as it protects their client. Conversely, stay away from anyone trying to work without a contract. You might end up liable for damages to property, people and more.
Make Sure Your Contractor Is Licensed, Bonded and Insured
Reputable contractors will insist on making their licensing, bonding and insurance information available to you. This is another important protection for both their clients and themselves. Any contractor working without a license, bonding or insurance should be reported to the Contractors State License Board.
Choose a Contractor Who Works on Your Type of Project
If you’re having a remodel done for your home, you want to get a contractor who works primarily in home remodels and redesign. If you’re building or remodeling an office building, shopping center, or other commercial property, you want to get a contractor who specializes in commercial construction. While they can technically do both, there are enough differences that a home remodel would be best constructed by a residential contractor and a shopping center by a commercial contractor.
Check on Their Lien Status
According to mechanic’s lien laws in the State of California, people who work on or supply materials to your project and don’t get paid for it can file a lien on your home. This means that you may end up liable for that payment even if you already paid your contractor for it, if your contractor shirks on paying those bills. A good way to determine whether this may affect you is to check on their legal status in terms of their payments on past projects. If they still owe $30K from their last job, for instance, chances are that’s what your job will be paying for. If a contractor does have a lien against them, it’s best to move forward to evaluating another contractor for your job.
Go With a Local Construction Contractor
Simply, a local construction contractor is the most well-versed in local legislature and regulations around building and construction, and can advise you best on your project based on their knowledge and experience. This can save you from a lot of undue hassles down the road as your project is progressing.
Look At Work Samples
Any construction contractor worth consideration will happily supply you with a portfolio of their past work. Many also have previous clients willing to give referrals to them because of their satisfaction with their work.
Understand Your Part
You may have to move things from one place or another to create “swing spaces” for crews to work in while still working out of your space, or go without certain facilities for a time. A good contractor will let you know upfront what they will need from you to complete a job effectively and efficiently.
Work Together on Guidelines
You may have very specific requirements of conducting your business that don’t support subcontractors and builders entering and exiting your property all the time. A good contractor knows this and will work with you to make sure nobody is stepping on each other’s toes (or doing so as gently as possible.)
Go With Your Gut
Intuition is an amazing thing. When you rely on your own instincts while evaluating a contractor, you not only will probably choose the best contractor, but you’ll feel comfortable with them heading up your project. Make sure you have a good gut feeling before starting negotiations on your project with anyone.