Q: TALK TO HIS CLIENTS

 

ASK for names of people who have used this builder and the experience they had. Did the builder respond to their questions and concerns in a timely manner, was he flexible and easy to work with, and was the quality of his product a top concern. If the builder won’t give you the names of some his clients, cross him off of your list.

 

Q: SEE HIS WORK

 

DON’T just call his references; see his work for yourself. You might even get some unexpected tips or ideas from the visit. Look at the overall building but examine the finer areas and details for the craftsmanship and quality you expect.

 

Q: ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS

 

HOW long did it take the contractor to complete work for other clients? Does he go over budget or schedule? What are his working hours? How clean does he keep the site when you’re not there? You might not get forthright answers, but asking savy questions shows you’re in control.

 

Q: INTERVIEW IN PERSON

 

INTERVIEW the contractor to see if you mesh. Treat it like a first date. The chemistry that you might have or not have is important on six to nine month construction projects, as is the ability to openly communicate with your contractor.

 

Q: GO FOR QUALITY, NOT COST

 

DON’T be seduced by the lowest bid. You’ll often get the best price from someone who is not local and who is trying to break into the market. These outsiders are not necessarily working with local building departments, zoning codes or environmental issues. Find a balance between price and quality.

 

Q: MAKE SURE HE HAS THE RIGHT EXPERIENCE

 

CHOOSE someone with the specific skills you need for your project. If you’re looking to build a custom home, find a builder who is comfortable and experienced with this type of construction.

 

Q: PAY IN INSTALLMENTS

 

ARRANGE to pay as you see the work done. Make sure the contract includes time penalties so the contractor won’t take on jobs that take precedence over yours. And don’t pay for his materials in advance. A contractor who asks for this could be a one-man band. If you know his work is good, you might go along with this, but it could spell trouble.

 

Q: CHECK WHO HE HIRES

 

LOOK for contractors who have established crews. Ask about his hiring practices. You want someone who has a steadfast crew who have worked with him for a while.

 

Q: MAKE SURE HE’S LEGIT

 

MAKE sure the contractor is bonded and licensed before cutting a check. Among other things, this will protect you from liability if someone gets hurt on the job.

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