Tip of the Week
How to Choose a Builder
If you are considering additions or renovations to your home or office, you will want to make sure you find the best and most economical builder for your project. Putting an addition onto your home has never been more economical. In fact, it might be more economical to expand your home rather than finding a new place to live.
Americans spend up to $15 billion each year on home improvement projects completed by builders. These professionals can change your existing structure or build your dream home.
Determine the Budget
Knowing your budget will help you determine the size of your project. Don’t make the mistake of overspending on a construction project. Usually, other costs come up after the initial bid on the project. You could end up paying for extra permits you may not have realized you needed, or materials could go up in price.
With costs in mind, have a vision of your finished project. This mental image will guide you toward finding the right builder.
After determining your budget and plan, look for five builders. You can find them on the Internet, in the telephone book, through recommendations from people in your social network, or through ads in your local newspaper.
Solicit five bids for this project. Once you have received all of them, throw out the highest bid. The top bid is probably more than you should pay. The lowest bidder might have inaccurately assessed the job or is simply too inexperienced, so be sure to research them carefully.
Interview the Builders
Schedule appointments with each builder. Communicate your vision and talk about the bid in detail.
Request references. Each contact should be a previous client. Be sure to view the work of the builder at those locations and see if you can get any feedback from their clients.
Check the References
When speaking with previous clients, ask if the construction stayed on schedule. Were there any delays other than the weather? Did the builder keep costs within budget? Also, inquire about the behavior of the crew. Did they leave a mess after the project was completed?
You will also want to check on any follow-up service. Were there any repairs or minor touch-ups required? You should receive satisfactory answers to all these questions.
Get a Contract
Once you have selected the builder, you should receive a contract with the bid in writing. Read this document thoroughly so you understand what is included, and what is not. Building contracts outline a time frame for when work will be completed. Be sure you and the builder agree on what will happen if the timeframe is not met. Both of you should agree on the terms of completion. You should not pay the final amount of the bill until all work is finished, including receiving any necessary permits and cleanup.
This written document should also stipulate who will be working on your property. Sometimes, a builder subcontracts other companies for portions of a job. You should know the other companies and what tasks they will be doing.
Payment due dates will be listed on the contract. It is typical to pay for the materials before the project begins. The materials should be on site before you make payment. Request a receipt for payment.
The contract should also specify when the builder will be at the site. Most builders hire project managers for major jobs. If there is a project manager assigned for your job, meet with that person at the beginning of the project.
Choosing the right builder will make all the difference in the world. The right builder will be experienced, do quality work in the time frame specified, and keep to the budget as much as possible.