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Finding the Right Contractor

Searching for the right contractor?

Many clients are surprised when they learn that in BC anyone can become a contractor and frame a house/structure without any formal training or qualifications. So, it is important to find a skilled contractor, an established contractor and one that’s a good fit for you. Below we discuss what to ask prospective contractors, how to pick one, and what are their responsibilities.

Finding the right builder.

Begin by talking to the contractor. Ask about previous projects, experience and staff. Do they work in this particular area on a regular basis? Ask if they use regular sub-trades or just get them on a per job basis. Find out who they are personally, what they are about, and whether they are a member of the community.

Finding the right one for you.

Be honest and ask yourself is this the type of person who I can trust with probably my largest asset? Are they approachable? Can I talk to them without feeling they just want my money? Do they come up with ideas – expanding on my own – or do they just go along with anything I say? The best advice I can give you is go with your gut feeling. If it feels right it usually is right.

What makes a good contractor?

A good contractor will listen to your ideas and expand on them giving advice based on their construction experience. During the early stages, you should talk about realistic budgets, timelines, designs and materials. They should also tell you about other projects to give you a better understanding of how the finished product will look.

It’s not all about price.

The choice of contractor is down to you but beware of choosing just because they are the lowest bidder. Down the road they may make up the difference with change orders or they might cut corners with materials and labour.

A partnership with a common goal.

Each project is a unique partnership not unlike a marriage, it takes two equal parties coming together with a common goal to bring a dream to fruition. Without communication and input from both sides it does not work.

Contractor’s responsibilities.

A good contractor works hard. Here is a list of their jobs and responsibilities:

  • Set initial budgets.
  • Provide a clear and concise contract.
  • Set and agree a payment schedule based on work progress and completed.
  • Liaise with design professionals and attend meetings to avoid misunderstandings and miscommunication.
  • Provide input on alternative solutions for a better or more cost effective way.
  • Obtain the necessary permits.
  • Schedule and meet with city officials for inspections.
  • Understand and be able to interpret the plans and specifications.
  • Obtain comprehensive estimates from suppliers and subcontractors.
  • Take the time to go through these with you and explain any areas that you do not understand.
  • They will point out potential problems and ways to mitigate them.
  • Provide copies of their own insurance policies.
  • Verify sub trade insurance coverage.
  • Organize and negotiate contracts with the subcontractors.
  • Quantify and order materials.
  • Schedule deliveries.
  • Schedule sub trades.
  • Provide workable solutions when conflicts and discrepancies arise.
  • Disburse money to subs and material suppliers and provide proof of payment.
  • Supervise and coordinate the work flow of employees, sub trades and suppliers.
  • Troubleshoot job-site problems.
  • Liaise and communicate with all concerned parties, Owner, city officials, architects, engineers, sub trades etc.
  • Provide and explain warranties on materials and labour.
  • Be present on the job site or designate a responsible person to supervise at all times.
  • Be transparent in their dealings.