I’ve done it again! I’ve found another great article over at Yahoo!Homes. This one is filled with insight from Sonoma-based general contractor Erio Brown. This article contains lots of good advice from another contractors view point…it’s
almost as refreshing as a nice iced latte! Enjoy…
“Every woman (and man) should love their contractor. Why? Because the contractor is like the glue of a project. While an architect creates and oversees the design, the contractor and his team of workers—subcontractors—executes the vision. It’s the contractor whom you will always find on site, and he’s the person everyone turns to for help and problem solving as construction progresses. We asked general contractor Erio Brown to fill us in on the crucial things to consider and how to find the contractor who is right for your job.” - Sarah Lonsdale, Remodelista
Remodelista: What’s the biggest mistake people make when hiring a contractor?
Erio Brown: Sometimes people hire a contractor only because he or she came in with the lowest bid. You should try to hire a contractor who has a good reputation, someone who comes to you through referral. There are contractors who will lowball a bid in order to get the job and then bury the client with change orders—a change to the original scope of work on the contract—that can be costly. Always ask for references and then interview the contractor’s previous clients if you can.
RM: How do you make the experience a collaborative thing and not just a business transaction?
EB: Yeah, this can be a tough transition to make, but I think it’s very important. The bottom line is the client needs work done on their home or business, and they have a limited budget. The contractor needs to earn enough to cover all of the materials, plus labor, insurance, etc, and still make a profit. During the bidding process, the client and contractor are figuratively sitting across the table from one another. But once the contract is signed and an agreement is reached, it is critical that they are now on the same side of the table and it becomes a partnership.
RM: Things a client should consider ahead of time?
EB: Clients often wonder why they have to commit to so many details ahead of time. Sometimes they want to see the house framed and the drywall installed before they decide on what materials to select, but a lot of decisions need to happen early in the process. For example, we need to know what flooring material they would like because the thickness of the floor should relate to the door thresholds and built-in cabinets, which means the client has to decide what goes on the floor. If the tile is selected early in the process, then we can adjust the framing so that we’ll be able to use full tiles and not have odd cuts. This is important in showers and for kitchen backsplashes. And knowing the size of door and window trim means we know how to place light switches and outlets. It’s better to spend the time in the beginning than to fix it later. Spending some additional time in the beginning can save money down the road and you’ll end up with a much better project when it’s completed.
RM: Final thoughts on finding a good contractor?
EB: Definitely aim to find someone through a direct referral or word of mouth. A contractor’s reputation is very important, and a reputable builder will work very hard to keep clients happy and not burn bridges. Ask friends or neighbors about who worked on their house, and about the whole experience. You want to find out if the project stayed on budget, if the work was done well, and if the contractor checked in after the job was complete. I don’t do any advertising and I am the first to admit that I’m terrible at self promotion; that’s why my reputation is so important: I only get jobs through client referral and I also rely heavily on real estate agents, architects, and designers. Yelp or Angie’s list can be good resources for doing some additional research after you’ve found a contractor you’re considering hiring. If you’re in California, you should also always check with the Contractors State License Board, a site where you can make sure your potential contractor has a valid license that’s in good standing and is insured and bonded. [Each state has its own requirements and licensing board.] It can be tempting for a homeowner to hire an unlicensed builder because it might save some money, but hiring a licensed contractor really protects you as a homeowner.
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