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Selecting a Contractor or Home Builder

When hiring someone to either work on your existing home or to build a new one for you there are several considerations to bear in mind, all of which will affect the end result and over time your satisfaction with the finished product.

Concerns When Hiring a Contractor:

Remember – never select a builder simply because his bid is the lowest! 

You get what you pay for and often the cheapest bid becomes the costliest job by the time it’s done. The nature of the work to be done should also be considered. Your budget will be a major consideration, but not in the way you may think. You will find that the more professional a builder the lower your total cost will likely be because the work will be done right the first time.

You will need to match the expertise of the builder to what you need. 

It makes sense to hire a roofer if you need a roof. The specific type of materials to be used may determine who you should hire. For example, if you want to use an uncommon type of siding you will need to find a builder who has experience with it.

Are you building a new house?

  • If so, is it basic construction or more complicated?
  • Is it a project that will require the expertise of someone who has been building for many years?
  • If not a whole house then is it a renovation or addition?
  • Builders often tend to specialize in one type of work, so it is wise to ask questions regarding this. For example, if it is a kitchen remodel, has he done many of these?
  • Do you need the work to be done as quickly as possible? – With smaller jobs a builder may have difficulty working only on yours as he may need to wait for a subcontractor to come in and complete his work, so the builder will work elsewhere while waiting. You need to discuss this beforehand to determine how long this may take for your project to be completed. The larger the builder the more he may need to pull off your job if there is this kind of delay.
  • How detailed a set of plans will be required? Some builders, and some jobs require a full set of blueprints, does yours?

Ask Yourself These Questions When Selecting a Contractor:

  • Is your builder licensed? If so, he will have a card in his wallet to show you.
  • Is he fully insured? If not, any damage done or injury suffered during construction may be your cost to pay.
  • Is he known in the area? Have you heard of him by word of mouth?
  • Who is his primary supplier, and what do they say about how he pays his bills?
  • Will he give you references from his last three jobs to check out?
  • Who does he hire for subcontractors and what are their reputations?
  • Can he offer you either pictures of past work or refer you to locations where you can see some of his work?

Personal preferences can play a part in selecting a builder.

  • Is it important that the builder stay in close contact?
  • Can this builder work with my time schedule? With bids, with daily schedule for starting/stopping?
  • Is there a good fit between what I ask for and what is offered?
  • Will he keep the job site clean enough for your taste?
  • Is smoking/chewing an issue?

Advantages of Hiring a Licensed Contractor include:

  • Knowing that you the work done will be by someone who has years of experience and who the state has tested as to his knowledge of proper building techniques.
  • Having a professional on your team who is knowledgeable in the building codes and who will carefully build within them.
  • Being protected by the fact that you are protected from liability and property claims while the work is being performed as your builder is fully insured.
  • The ability to check references to verify the reputation and reliability of the contractor.
  • Lower end cost even though the quote may have been higher because the work is done properly the first time.
  • Shorter time in completing the work due to the contractor’s competence.
  • Security in knowing that the local inspectors will be reviewing the work to ensure the safety and quality of the finished product.
  • Peace of mind due to the fact that a licensed contractor will hire only qualified sub-contractors to do the plumbing, wiring and mechanical work on your project.

In the state of Michigan, contractors who do more than $600 worth of work on a property must be licensed. There are some serious consequences for home owners and contracters alike when work is done by an unlicensed contractor. To check a license visit this State of Michigan official website.

Hiring an unlicensed contractor is usually more expensive, time-consuming and stressful. Unlicensed contractors do not know the proper procedures and techniques. Homeowners find themselves looking for someone to fix a job that has gone wrong. Satisfaction can be hard to gain when dealing with unlicensed contractors. The Department of Licensing and Regulation can only prosecute them for not being licensed, and they are not members of professional organizations which have the power to influence and educate them. Unlicensed contractors often do not finish the job. 

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