Contractors can be a touchy subject, as we all can agree. Too many times we run into contractors screwing people over, making up excuses, general lack of interest in the projects, lying, etc. etc. Too often have we had the bad experiences.
It’s a shame how the industry has fallen. This is why it’s so important to find that trustworthy contractor. But how do you, what do you look for? How do you find the one among many, the ripe apple in the bad bunch, The needle in the haystack?
I’m a contractor that works in South Jersey, central jersey, and the jersey shore and I wanted to start a Discussion on how to find that contractor. Here are some tips that I have:
1. It starts at the first conversation. When you call, email, or talk to the contractor the first time get a feel for them. See if their style of business, ethics, emotion, personality, and manner match what your are looking for. Make sure their someone you can work with.
2. The next big thing is when you get to the point of them doing an actual bid, make sure they take notes, measurements, ask questions, and are in general paying attention. Make sure they have a vested interest in he job, even if they know they might not get it. Any contractor that’s going to stay around should be willing to bid on anything you have no matter if there is competition.
3. Next they should definitely get the bid back to you in a timely manner. This ranges from contractor to contractor and job to job, but it should be sometime within a day to a week. Keep following up with them as well till you get it. For example I get mine back next day unless it’s the weekend. Then It’s next business day. Also they shouldn’t be afraid to tell you their numbers and costs. For example again I put mine in a detailed SOW with line items written out cost by cost. Most contractors aren’t that detailed but they still should should know their costs.
4. Also being on time to all meetings, in the contractor world that translates usually to within 10 mins. The more on time the better.
These are the things that have helped me as both an investor and a contractor. How have you gone about this process? Comment below and give your tips.
I’ve been through a few of each general field (HVAC, plumbers, electric, trim, etc.) and have thinned down who I work with and who I refer based off of work done at my own places. Other professional fields that I never personally needed through the years I have used professionally (as a Realtor) or just ask other pros for referrals. That usually works pretty well because as agents our reputation lies on our referrals, so the crappy guys and gals tend to get weeded out.
Everyone has been burned at some point or another. I know I have. Thanks for the insight from a contractors point of view. No one knows the business like someone in the business.
I agree with @William Lees here. As an estimator for a commercial contractor you want to follow those criteria listed above. This allows better transparency between contractor and customer, but also gives them the information to compare other contractors and see if they have it in their scope of work. You want to be in the apples-to-apples comparison as best you can. This is very important on both sides of the field, because once the estimate has passed through these criteria, then it's good to have it as historical data for future projects out to bid.
The site visit is very important to see how a contractor retains all information during the visit and how it's recorded. I bring all necessary measuring tools, my tablet, and a digital camera. There are good experienced estimators that can do this on the fly, but if they're not documenting themselves it becomes tricky if an emergency happens and they may need to take a break from estimating the project. Not everyone's memory is great, and not everyone can pick up their estimate where they left off.
If I'm currently negotiating the scope of work at the site visit, I want to be sure that the scope of work is set in stone for other contractors that may appear or not. I don't want to be in a situation where my scope of work included X amount of fixture installments and my competitor has a different X amount of fixture installments because they were not in the same site visit. Their conversation could have been different than mine, which could result in a change in cost. It's best to fully understand the scope of work you're trying to get accomplished, even if you have to work it out with one contractor initially, and then send it out to all who are pricing. If there's questions from a contractor that's been answered, it's in your best interest to send that out to the other contractors as well. Do not name the contractor who questioned it, but word it as anonymous as you can. If these questions impact pricing, scheduling, and coordination then all contractors should know it to keep the estimate apples-to-apples.