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How to Pick Contractors to Build a House

Choosing the right contractor can mean the difference between getting the job done right and getting the job done at all. The contracting business is fraught with fraud and with those who are much better at appearing to be honest and industrious than they are at actually building or renovating your house. The most important thing to keep in mind is that you are the boss and you should never be afraid to exercise your power.

Things You'll Need

  • Budget
  • References
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    • 1

      Interview the potential contractors as if you are the boss hiring an employee. Conduct multiple interviews with those contractors you feel good about. The first interview should not focus on the job itself, but rather on the history and experience of the contractor. You want to get a good feeling about a contractor before you begin to discuss your project in-depth. When your interview does move into the arena of the job at hand, make sure the contractor understands the extent of your budget and be firm about whether they can get the job done within the parameters of that budget.

    • 2

      Get references from the contractor. Call those references and speak to them in-depth. If all you are getting are glowing reviews, you should be very wary. Very few contracting jobs go without some sort of hitch. Ask for permission to actually see the work that was done so you can see for yourself the quality of the job.

    • 3

      Ask the contractor for proof of insurance coverage and his license. Some contractors are fly by night operators who are unlicensed, unbonded and lack insurance. Any contractor that cannot produce evidence of this basic trustworthiness can be eliminated immediately. Call your state or local licensing agency to make sure that the contractor meets all legal requirements necessary to work in your area.

    • 4

      Get a second opinion no matter how good you feel about a contractor. Some contractors are much better at consumer relations than they are at actually getting the work done. Just because you don't like the contractor doesn't mean that person isn't going to do the best job. One of the best sources for a second opinion is your town's code supervisor. This is the best person to ask for a quality opinion on the actual work done by local contractors. The Better Business Bureau is another good place to get a qualified second or third opinion. (See Reference 1.)

    • 5

      Resist the temptation to make your decision based on cost alone. While it is important to always have a firm budget figure, do not immediately go with the contractor who offers to do the job cheapest. This may mean cheap materials and slipshod work. Always get written estimates that include the cost for material and labor. When comparing these costs from different contractors, you should always view any estimate that is well below the average with a degree of suspicion.