Architecture Revealed

Tips For Hiring a Contractor

All of my clients loathe the idea of trying to find a good residential builder. We have all heard the horror stories; it can be a regrettable situation if not approached correctly. However, by knowing your priorities, asking a few direct questions and getting a little education you can clear a path through an otherwise daunting experience.

Start out by knowing yourself and your priorities well. Become familiar with the “golden triangle” of “GOOD-FAST-CHEAP…pick any 2″. It is a hard truth of construction that only two of the three are truly viable options. Often I have seen clients go for the low bid only to tear their hair out later as the realize that the schedule or craft of the project is more important to them. Be honest with yourself; decide which 2 of the 3 are the most important to you and hire a contractor known for delivering those. Having a made a conscious choice, the process, even during the harder times, will flow more easily knowing your priorities are intact.

Referrals are tremendously helpful in this regard, but be careful to make sure that the person recommending the contractor has the same priorities that you have. For instance, someone may rave about a contractor and go on about his/her attention to detail, but perhaps leave out that the schedule drifted or that maybe the budget grew throughout construction. Be careful to understand how some people use the term “craft” as well…what is well executed craftsmanship to one individual may be unacceptable to another. Here’s a hint, if as a homeowner, you know what the term “full tile” is then you had best hire the top of the line craftsman! It is vital to interview the people giving the referrals as well as the contractor themselves. You want to make sure that what was good for them will also be a good fit for you too.

Then get to know your contractors. Ask probing questions some of which may be uncomfortable to ask, but can protect you tremendously:

  1. How long have you been in business?
  2. Are you licensed and insured?
  3. How many similar projects have you done?
  4. May I have a list of references?
  5. Do I need a permit?
  6. Have you ever been sued?
  7. What was the last conflict you had with a client and how did you deal with it?
  8. What will the communication with us be like throughout the job? Weekly meetings? Bi-weekly?
  9. Will you be the supervisor on our project?
  10. If not can we please interview the person who will be supervising our project?

These questions will flush out any irregularities that could become unfortunate surprises later. All the while, pay attention to how the contractor answers your questions:

  1. Does the contractor return your calls in a timely fashion?
  2. Do they seem eager to do the job?

How they handle the interviewing process alone will provide information as to what it may be like to deal with them throughout the project.

Continue on by educating yourself as much as you can. The California Contractors State License Board at under the consumer section, has a wealth of information. Not only do they explain how to hire a contractor but also how to check on the status of their license, how to negotiate bids, contracts and payment options as well. This is one of many resources that take little time to peruse but can save you enormously later. Those of you working with an architect will get their expertise as they guide you through the selection process, as is this is one of their primary purposes - to represent and protect the client, especially during construction.

Construction can be quite challenging. Shipment delays, weather and other unforeseen events seem to always occur. But by hiring a contractor in an educated, methodical and well-informed manner you place yourself in the best possible position for a rewarding experience.

3 Responses to “Architecture Revealed”

  1. KrisBelucci says:

    da best. Keep it going! Thank you

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  3. CrisBetewsky says:

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