Along with choosing a spouse, deciding on who will build your custom home is one of life’s major decisions. Your contractor will become a very important person in your life during the build, someone whose calls you will always take and whose texts and emails will be quickly answered. You are entrusting this person with major responsibility and will be paying him or her lot of money. Here are some thoughts to guide you in choosing wisely.
Reputation – check out references. Get phone numbers of recent customers so you can call them and find out their experience and satisfaction. Go see some of his /her prior projects. Ask around town what people think of the contractor-candidate.
Trust – Does the contractor-candidate look you in the eye, do his/her answers to your questions seem direct or evasive? Does he/she oversell or deal in realistic expectations?
Clarity – Does the contractor-candidate clearly explain, both verbally and in his proposal and contract, what the scope of work will be, what’s included and what’s NIC (not in contract), what the pricing is, and what is the expected schedule of completion?
Bid Proposals/Estimates – Every contractor has his/her own way of laying out the categories of work, making apples/apples comparisons challenging. Don’t hesitate to ask the contractor-candidate to break down the unit costs of each phase of the work. Most bids will have “Allowance” items for stated amounts, which means that you have not yet decided on what you want – typically finishing items such as flooring, cabinets, countertops, appliances, etc. Examine the Allowance amounts to make sure that they are realistic – enough to cover the cost of what you want. Sometimes contractors put in low and insufficient Allowance amounts to make it look like their bids are lower. Not a good sign.
Contract – Once you have made your selection, carefully review the contractor’s form of agreement with your attorney. The contract should clearly spell out the scope of work, what’s included and what’s NIC, the timing of payments, and set out an estimated schedule for completion. Go by the rule, if it’s not written, it’s not real – that avoids arguments later on. The contractor should be required to name you as owner as an additional insured under his/her insurance, and he/she should agree to indemnify you against any claims or liens of subcontractors. Finally, there should be a retainage amount held until all the punch list items have been corrected by the contractor.
Atlantic Custom Homes guides you through the process and helps you make the right choice. With our help, you will have an enjoyable experience and a result that will reward and please you for years. Have a great build!