Contractor Checklist

Type of contractor

  • You will probably need a full time general contractor to build a house, as they will have the appropriate contacts and relationships with subcontractors - electricians, plumbers, etc.
  • A small time contractor who will pitch in himself is a good choice - smaller jobs can be more cost effective if the foreman is also working.
  • A contractor who specializes in landscaping is your best bet as they will have the right contacts - nurseries, greenhouses, etc.
  • Look for a specialist in the area you are remodeling - some contractors specialize in kitchens and baths, for example.

References

Interviewing

Requirements

Contract

Hiring the right contractor is one of the most important decisions you can make, whether your projects is small, such as a room addition, or large such as a whole house build. Contractors don't just do home construction; they may be employed to take care of projects such as landscaping, various levels of renovation, garage or barn building or fencing. The following checklist may help you select a contractor who will stay the course.  

Tips

Prior to hiring a contractor, it is common to have a designer or consultant look over plans prepared by a professional architect and explain what needs to be done. This information can prove useful when interviewing contractors for the job.

Have a full set of plans and a comprehensive materials list already in hand before sitting down to interview a contractor - this will show that you are aware of what needs to be done and what it will take to do it and can prevent you from being taken advantage of.

Hiring the cheapest contractor can lead to serious problems down the line. A bid significantly lower than all the others can mean shoddy workmanship or sub-standard materials - or both. A breakdown of the cost of both labor and materials should be asked for and gone over carefully to ensure that the job goes smoothly and doesn't fall apart two weeks after completion.

Using local contractors when possible will save time and money. So will using materials from a local source. Paying local markup for material may beat paying freight costs to have materials shipped in, so shop around and get the best deal you can. Once you feel you have both the best material and the best contractor available, you can give the green light for the project to begin, but you should still be as hands on as possible throughout the process.