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  • Jim Butz

Now That I Have A Contractor

Congratulations, you have selected a contractor for your project!  Now what?  Well, there are some details that are important to know in this next phase.

Here are some questions and things to ask and consider:

1. What is your budget?

Contractors generally tie their costs and expenses to the materials and features selected, labor costs, timeframes, also known as deadlines and the level of quality you expect.  You should be up front and candid about these so that your budget remains within what you can afford to get your project done. Also plan on a contingency fund of 10-15% to cover unforeseen expenses.

2. What features of the project is primary, secondary and just wishful thinking?

Remember, there is a fine line or rather The Continental Divide between what you want and what you can afford.  Be practical when figuring out what you really need and can swing financially done versus what you would like yet is way out of your budget.  Both you and the contractor will be happier in the long run. Remember something can always be added at a later time when the funds become available.

3. What can or should I expect with a bid proposal?

In the cases of contractor proposals, brevity is not a virtue.  A professional and responsible contractor will include all of the details with the actual steps needed to be taken in a bid.  Further, the responsibilities of all parties involved (the home owner, contractor and subs) need to be clearly defined in writing.  And, the necessary prevention steps to protect your home from any dust or other unforeseen damage should be included in the bid.

4.  How many bids should I get and which bid do I chose?

If you have worked with the contractor before or have experienced their work one bid may suffice.  Otherwise, my recommendation is getting a maximum of four bids on larger projects.  One bid will be a goofball who really isn’t interested in the project.  There is usually a significantly higher bid as well as an extremely lower bid with other bids somewhere in the middle. Those contractors with little interest in your project will often bid higher just to cover their costs and see if anyone “bites.”  Low bidders are often appealing to cost-conscious clients who may not be aware that the contractor has left out certain features or will recoup his profits with substituting sub-standard products and labor, leading to excessive and expensive change orders when the client is up against the wall during the construction phase.

What you need to look for are those bids from quality, competent contractors.  If you have done your research on which they are, you should know that they are reputable and their bids should be within the ballpark of the others. Smaller contractors are usually in better control of job costs and will produce a fairer bid without the costs of higher overhead and profit margins.

What is their process for change orders? Changes are inevitable. It is important to know how, when, at what cost and who is responsible for the changes that need to be made.

By following these suggestions and asking some important questions, your project will operate that much smoother and both you and the contractor will know expectations, costs and timelines.  Communication is the most valuable component in any remodeling project.

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