How to Hire a Contractor

As an architect, I regularly see people struggling with the process of hiring a general contractor… prompting me to write this article.

(The following is an excerpt from the downloadable flyer – link provided below)

Where to Start

It goes without saying that hiring your contractors is key to the success of your project. The choice of contractor can influence the quality of the finished build, the amount of time taken, and the final cost to complete the project

  • How to find contractors: Seek referrals from your contacts. Find out which contractors completed projects at the project location (contractors with local knowledge can be very useful)
  • Licence, registration, insurance: Be sure to check building licences and other documentation prior to engaging a contractor

What to Ask

There are numerous questions that I recommend you ask your prospective contractors before selecting one.

  • Questions for contractors: e.g. size and scale of operation; what is their pipeline of work?
  • Review contractors’ portfolios of work; ask questions about hurdles overcome in specific or similar projects
  • Check references: Contact past clients and find out more about how work was performed
  • Cementing the relationship: Narrow the list of contractors to two or three – invite them to your project site to meet with your architect. Where can they save you money in the build? Does their schedule suit your time frame? Ask about a range of general construction costs – is it within your budget and quality expectations?

How to Acquire Bids

The bidding process is involved and can catch out those who are not experienced.

  • Ask your architect to help you review bids lodged by contractors
  • Ask for line item bids for various categories of work for comparison and to avoid mistakes

How to Seal the Deal

  • Decide on which contractor you wish to hire; while your plans are in the permit review process, discuss with the contractor the kinds of contracts available; ask to review a sample contract
  • Ask for updates to the construction bid if plans change
  • Don’t sign the contract until building permits are issued and costs are finalised
  • Allow 5 – 8% contingency for costs arising from local authority requirements or other unexpected items outside the control of you and contractor

IT IS possible to find dependable and professional building contractors – despite some of the negative stories you might read about in the news.

Following a sensible approach in the sequence recommended by an architect will help reduce stress and anxiety involved in hiring a contractor and completing your project.

Click here to download the full How to Hire a Contractor flyer here (PDF).