If you’re looking for a contractor, congratulations! You’re on your way to building your new home. The key to a successful process is a good working relationship with your contractor. Building two-way trust is the foundation upon which the relationship, and your home, will be built.
Do your research
The home you are building is probably one of the most expensive purchases you have ever made, if not the most expensive. This is not the time to be unsure about who you are working with. Make sure any contractor you are considering has a great track record, with examples of homes you can see and former clients you can speak to.
The best way to find a trusted contractor is to ask people you trust. Start with friends, family, coworkers, and neighbors. Then, ask the sales agents in the communities you are considering and your real estate agent. But that’s just the beginning.
“A referral from someone you know is a great place to start, but don’t stop there — you’ll want at least three candidates. Cross-reference your choices against various sources of information before settling on a contractor,” said houselogic. They recommend checking the Better Business Bureau for complaints and reviewing sites like Angie’s List, Consumers’ Checkbook, Craigslist, and Yelp.
Study the paperwork
Once you have narrowed down potential contractors to a few, ask for itemized bids. Comparing and contrasting them may help you eliminate one or more from the running or raise questions. After you’ve chosen a contractor, review the contract carefully. According to houselogic, you’ll want to make sure the contract includes:
- Details about permits and approvals to be obtained by the contractor
- Project start and end dates
- A payment schedule
- An arbitration clause
- A change order clause that states that they “must be signed and countersigned by both you and the contractor.”
Involve your contractor from the beginning
The more information about—and insight into— the project a contractor has, the better he can understand all aspects of the project and determine where there may be issues. A contractor can be involved as early as the land search, which will allow him to help provide guidance into which lots best accommodate the home you envision.
“When a contractor gets involved with a project at its earliest stages…they can help you by being a resource and a catalyst,” said Tom Nichols, President of Atlanta, GA-based Winter Construction. “As a resource, your general contractor can help you identify roadblocks…and provide solutions. They can also help guide you in choosing other partners, such as the architect, since they are familiar with the requirements set forth by your vision for the project. As a catalyst, your general contractor takes on your challenges as his or her own. Projects can stall due to unforeseen obstacles. But when you have a true partnership with your general contractor, they can help to resolve these obstacles and keep the project moving forward.”
Handle budget discussions carefully
Budget overages are common. With so many variables in terms of materials, architecture, square footage, and finishes, you can expect to have to make edits somewhere—and probably more than once. A trustworthy contractor should be able to provide guidance, suggest changes, and recommend resources for alternate materials or finishes to help adjust prices.
Deal with issues quickly
Seething doesn't solve anything. Issues may arise with delays, or perhaps the crew building your house has become habitually late. A calm, honest discussion with your contractor should help straighten things out or at least shed light on the cause of the issues. At the end of the day, your contractor should be doing everything he can to satisfy your needs and the terms of the contract.
Above all, have open communication with your contractor. Have a concern? Bring it up. And expect the same in return. Like any successful relationship, honest communication that goes both ways is key.
For more information, visit Vintage Oaks or click here to download the free Guide to Building a Home in the Texas Hill Country.