Finding a good contractor to work in your home, especially if the work is going to require modifications to your existing home, is important.  Aside from the essential issues around the cost and scope of the works, what else is required to be considered when choosing one contractor or builder over another.  The key areas we consider in appointing a contractor or builder for domestic work are :

  • Experience
  • Resources
  • Communication
  • Value Engineering
  • Financial Responsibility

The following sections detail each of the above, providing more information that you need to consider when finding a good contractor for your project.

Experience

Does the contractor have the experience required to meet the scope of the project?

  • With any project, it’s important to align the skills of the general contractor with the work that needs to be completed.
  • Ask the general contractor about their unique capabilities and if they’ve performed similar types of work.
  • It’s certainly appropriate to ask for referrals.

Resources

Does the contractor have adequate resources at their disposal?

  • A strong network of subcontractors – it’s important that your general contractor has a network of reliable subcontractors that they work with regularly.
  • Adequate staff to handle the project – especially for larger projects, you should ask yourself, does this general contractor have enough staff on both the project management and administrative sides to take on my project? If specialist building regulation work is involved, are they familiar with the requirements?

Communication

Does the contractor effectively communicate with customers and subcontractors?

  • You can never underestimate the value of effective communication between subcontractors and customers. It’s what keeps projects running smoothly and on time.
  • It’s important to choose a contractor that is skilled at helping clients get their ideas out of their heads and onto paper and then effectively communicate what needs to be done with subcontractors to best achieve goals.

Value-Engineering Ideas

Can the contractor bring a construction-specific perspective to project planning?

  • When working with architects and engineers, a good general contractor is able to offer a different perspective from a construction standpoint.
  • This perspective allows the general contractor to make specific recommendations for how to construct something differently that is more effective for the project and/or will save a considerable amount of money.

Financially Responsible

Does the contractor have a strong financial record?

  • Having a healthy balance sheet is a very important quality to look for in a contractor.
  • If a contractor is financially responsible in their own business practices, then it is a good sign that they will manage the costs of your project responsibly as well.
  • Often times an owner will ask for a retention of 5% of the project cost to see if the contractor is approved.
  • Look for these red flags: a contractor that asks for money upfront or one willing to take a job for too cheap.
  • Keep in mind that a quoted cost does not always turn out to be the actual end cost – the most responsible contractors do their homework on the front-end in order to give accurate estimates