How to Select a Contractor?

How to Select a Contractor?

From Afzal Butt

Building your own home? If your answer is yes, then you must have you considered hiring a contractor for the project. A good contractor acts as a project manager on-site, ensuring that your expectations and aims are m...

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Considering the critical role played by a contractor during a construction project, it is important to be very thorough during the selection process. The process of selecting a contractor to construct your house should be based on the following tips:

  • Determine the role
  • Get referrals
  • Meet the candidates
  • Get a price quote
  • Inspect previous projects
  • Iron out the details

Now, let’s talk about each of these tips for finding the right contractor in detail below.

Project contractors can play one of two roles in any build. Contractors hired on a turnkey basis will perform all of the roles that you may associate with a contractor, from finding the labour and buying raw materials to handling odd jobs on-site and tackling the unexpected issues that crop up on site. They might also coordinate with your architect if you have chosen one. They will basically be in charge of the build, and while they may remain in contact with you from time to time for queries, feedback, or updates, you’ll essentially be brought on-board once the project is complete, so that you’ll just have to ‘turn the key’ and move in.

In contrast, you may choose to buy your own raw materials and might only require help managing the labour on the building site. The person you will hire in this scenario is also a contractor, but he is solely responsible for managing the workforce. You’ll provide the materials, and he’ll ensure that it gets built as per your specifications.

Before you begin to ask around for a contractor, you should know that there is a big difference between an architect and a contractor. You might have dealt with an architect to design the plans of the house, or you might have simply gotten ready plans handed to you by the housing society so that you can begin the construction immediately, with no direct contact with the architect. But a contractor is not the designer for the build. He will be a manager who will handle all the tasks on-site in your place, handing you a complete house ready for a final inspection. This is why it is so vital to hire a trustworthy contractor for the job.

Ideally, you need to find a contractor with a good reputation and several satisfied clients in the past, but the reference should come from close friends or family whom you trust. Ask around and shortlist a few people whom you think will be well suited to the type of role you require for your project.

Always meet each of the potential candidates face-to-face before hiring them. You can learn a lot about a person in a short interview. As you meet each candidate, don’t forget to ask some important questions before hiring a contractor. These are primarily practical queries related to your build, its timeline, pricing, as well as the contractor’s past work experiences and project results. You can even get contact numbers for past clients to ring them up and verify the expertise of the contractor you’re interviewing. This part is vital to finding the right contractor.

Consider visiting previous build sites after talking to the previous clients if you think that the references are too good to be true. Check out the quality of the materials used and the work itself before deciding to take them on board. You might also want to check out the suppliers or raw material providers that your contractor is in contact with so that you know more about the quality of fixtures and fittings that will be used to build the house. 

Do not make a hasty decision while selecting a house building contractor. Meet each contractor, sleep over it, cover all of the details, and then decide which one will be the best fit for your home’s construction. The fact remains that the service charges and material costs that they quote will be a big deciding factor, along with the timeline of the build. Unrealistic price quotes and timelines should make you think twice about hiring them for the job.

Of course, if you’ve finally decided on whom you want to hire, all that’s left is to iron out the details. While it would be ideal to get all the price quotes, deadlines, and expectations in writing, contracts are rarely drafted for hiring a project manager on a residential build site. As such, we’d advise you to seek legal help and draft up a document that you can both sign. If not, make sure you follow up with the contractor regularly.

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