The absolutely best way to select the right contractor is through a recommendation from someone you trust. Here are some helpful tips for selecting your builder.
Ask family, neighbours and friends who have had work done to their homes. But make sure the people you are getting the recommendation from have the same standards as you! What someone else considers acceptable; you might not.
Ask Your Architect
If you are working with an architect do consider going with one of their preferred contractors. Your architext will have a relationship with this builder – and the builder will be keen to keep the relationship intact as they depend on it for getting more work. A good contractor will behave like a member of the team solving problems rather than flagging issues.
Check Out Their Work
Once you have identified a contractor ask to visit some previous jobs. If they take pride in their work and value their reputation, they’ll be more than happy for you to go and see two or three examples of their work. Speak to the people they did the work for. Find out if there were any problems? If there were problems how were these resolved?
Ask About The Team
If you were happy with what you saw make sure to find out from the builder if the same team will be involved in your project. Often contractors outsource trades such as tiling, plumbing painting etc. The standard of these trades can vary wildly so if the same team are not going to be involved in your project do bear in mind that a similar standard of finish cannot be guaranteed.
Do also investigate your contractor’s insurances before you start and make sure you have a written contract. This is good practice regardless of who is recommending the builder. Without any form of written contract you have no protection if a dispute arises. A contract can help you claim some if not all of your money back if the contractor does not do what you agreed from the outset.
Field Of Expertise
If you already know a contractor you might want to ask them to do your project. Having a relationship with a builder is great but you need to make sure that the kind of work that you are planning is the kind of work that they do.
Scale Of The Project
Your contractor might have done relatively small jobs in the past, like a repair of a roof or bathroom fit-out, but might not have much experience with building an extension or the complete refurbishment of a house. Similarly you might simply be planning a kitchen refurbishment and your contractor might be used to doing much larger projects. Either way they might not be the best choice for the job.
Don’t Be Afraid To Say No
If the job is too big they will lack the resources and experience to tackle it, making the likelihood of problems quite high. If the job is too small they are likely not to prioritise it and see it as a favour meaning that you might get frustrated and the project could take a lot longer than it should. An existing relationship is not the best reason for appointing a contractor and if they are not the right person for the job, giving them the work could actually damage the relationship.
Make Sure You Get Along
And finally whoever you decide on using, make sure you get along. This person is going to be spending a lot of time in your home and you will most likely be in contact every day. So you need to like each other! A good builder is a contact that you will have for life so it’s worth spending the time in the beginning to find the right person.
Author, Denise O’Connor from Optimise Design – www.optimisedesign.ie