How to Select a Contractor – Part II

March 27 2019

Lets talk about selecting the right contractor for your job. Recently, I was called to meet with a potential client that wanted the following list of things done to her home; a) remove and replace existing decking on back patio and stairs, b) extend existing pool cage to include extending the concrete apron, c) remodel her exterior built in cooking area, and finally, d) rebuild and resurface the handicap ramp to her rear patio.

As someone who has built many projects over the years, contractors by in large, can be, and typically are, over confident in their abilities. As a business owner, this is a necessary evil! However, it can lead us to accept jobs that may not be a good fit for our company.

As a case in point, on the project listed above, my company (and our employees) have tons of experience with decks and ramps; but not so much with extending the pool cage and concrete footing. This project should require multiple subcontractors to complete the project (and that’s exactly how I would have handled it). However, the owner wanted one contractor that could do everything. Gang, as a contractor this is a huge red flag. I did not make it far enough into the discussion with the home owner to find out why she only wanted one contractor, but I know two things about this:

  1. She had a good reason; and
  2. It would not have been a good for me.

So how do you know if your contractor is good at doing what you want done? Ask them for a list of their last 3-5 projects (along with the names of the homeowners and a phone number that you can call for references). Any contractor worth their salt will have such a list and will give it to you upon conditional acceptance of the contract (they should be able to verbally tell you the scope of work for their last 3 projects without any trouble at all).

If you want me to remodel your bathroom and after 15-20 minutes of conversation, I have not said a word about the top manufacturing names associated with bathrooms (Kohler, Moen, American Standard, Schluter Inc.) I think I would look for another contractor. Remember what I said, Contractors are overly confident!

Remodeling a bathroom is not the same thing as remodeling an entire house. If you are looking at a large scale project such as adding an addition or renovating a significant section of your home; then you are looking to hire a general contractor that will use specialty subcontractors for specific aspects of your project. This makes perfect sense and you should be listening for words like “project management” and “the last time we built a project like yours” or phrases similar to this when you are discussing your project with your prospective builder.

The more specific your job (replacing a deck, upgrading your windows, installing tile floors) the more specific your contractor should be when talking to you.

till next time,

Merry Christmas Folks!

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