We are often asked for our advice on contractors. Over the years, we have developed solid relationships with a number of professionals that we enjoy working with, but that doesn’t always mean our clients go with our top choice! Unfortunately, sometimes homeowners just go with the lowest cost, placing budget as the highest priority in their decision making process. While that’s understandable, it’s generally not recommended. Proposals from different contractors can be hard to compare side-by-side, not knowing what allowances are included, how much is set aside for subcontractors, etc. We are always available to help our clients review contractor bids, but in addition to cost, we have prepared a list of important criteria to evaluate your contractors on below.

Personality

 

Do you like them?  You don’t have to be friends, but you are going to be talking with them a lot over the course of your project.

Do they feel honest and trustworthy?

Follow up with past clients and ask if their personality changed when the things got stressful on the job.

Communication

Are they available when you have questions?  Do they pick up the phone when you call or return messages that you send them?

Do they provide answers to your questions, or are they vague and non-committal.  Do they say, “Trust me!”?

Do they provide detailed explanations and documentation to back up their estimates and or ideas?

Plays Well with Others

Do they take the “my way or the highway” approach to projects?

What is their experience working with architects?

Are they a team player focused on creating solutions or just focused on cutting costs and corners?

Craftsmanship

Do they have skilled workers as part of their team?

Do they hire quality sub-contractors or do they go with the cheapest bid?

Ask for a walk through of past projects.  While there look at how the trim around the doors and windows meet – is it a tight, even joint? Check out the paint job, is it even and consistent, or is there paint on the door hardware or light switches?

Supervision

 

 

Find out how they manage their projects.  Do they use full-time superintendents?  Do they drive by for an hour each morning?  Do they leave it to the crews to supervise themselves?

Talk directly with the person who will be managing your job to make sure you have a connection.  The person putting together the bid and contract isn’t necessarily the person who will be on the job site.

Do they review the lighting layout with the framing crew, or the tile layout with the plumber? A general contractor should always supervise and coordinate with their subs.