The 10 most common mistakes when hiring a contractor….

Congratulations, you’re about to build your dream house,  repair your building or remodel the office.  So you’ve narrowed down the selection of builders.  Make sure to:

  1. Check their references, not just the ones they give you. Ask at the local building department, see if they have other jobs going on and speak to those owners for a more candid view.

2. Go check out a few similar projects of the potential builder.  Are the project sites neat? Does the foreman seem to have it together? Are permits displayed? What’s the vibe? Do the men look safe and alert?

3. Only start construction after signing a written agreement (The American Institue of Architects have great templates to buy online)

4.  Make sure the cost and schedule are identified . Be fair and ask for breakdowns / itemization of cost if something is unclear or seems too high.  Ask for explanations in a non-antagonist way. Also be wary if an item is too cheap- they may have missed something. This can be a problem because the builder may try to “make it up” later in the job when the omission is discovered and mysterious charges appear.  No contractor offers up a written schedule- you must ask. You and the contractor will need the written schedule to help plan for progress, ordering of materials, related arrangements for relocation, storage etc.

5. Specify a construction Schedule,  Get it  in writing with verifiable milestones so everyone can monitor progress. Don’ t make it too short, where quality may be jeopardized, nor too long when inattention and inconvenience can damage the project.

6. Make sure you discuss and document Payment installments and invoicing,  Keep it consistent and commensurate with project completion.  Make sure invoices are issued at agreed intervals so money can be ready.  Indicate a means of prompt payments.  Assure that each payment is accompanied by a receipt or a lien waiver.

7. Identify a withholdings for the end of the project, often called retainage, This is an agreed portion of payment to make sure the contractor has good reason to complete your project. Usually, a hold- back of the last 10% until everything is done to your satisfaction.

8. Clearly separate responsibilities (who does what), Whether you, the Owner, are supplying kitchen appliances or medical equipment, it needs to be stated so there is as little grey area for mis-interpretation.  If you are bringing an independent sub-contractor like a painter, that too needs to be clearly understood.

9. Have a regular means of communication, a weekly telephone call, meeting or progress email is critical to keep everyone on the same page. The importance of a recurring meeting where accountability and expectations are discussed is critical to the projects outcome. Plan ahead for upcoming issues.

10. Patience is essential.  Once the job starts, make sure you and the contractor move along together, talk frequently and pay ontime…address any job issues quickly and decisively.

Let’s talk and see where you stand 914 674 2950-ask for Steve.