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Tips: Hiring a Builder

Choosing the right builder for the construction of your new garage or garage apartment can be an overwhelming task. To ensure the success of the construction project, it is necessary to hire the right builder. It is nearly impossible to complete any building project without a few minor bumps along the way, but with the help of a skilled contractor, these problems can be kept to a minimum. You should feel confident that the professional you choose is someone you can place all your faith in to build your garage. Review the list of tips below. They are designed to help you select the right builder for the job.

  • Research all potential builders thoroughly. Talk with family members, friends and staff at local home improvement centers and lumberyards. Family and friends will be able to share firsthand experiences about their own building projects and may even recommend the builder they used. The professionals who work in the building supply industry work with builders and contractors every day. They may be able to recommend a builder to you as well. Remember, it is necessary to hire a reputable and qualified builder.
  • Hire licensed and insured builder. Request copies of insurance documents and any licenses the builder might have. (You should do this for subcontractors too.) Hiring a licensed builder means you will have leverage if problems arise. The contractor will correct any problems or issues during construction rather than risk losing his business license.
  • Get everything in writing. Do not accept any verbal estimates or changes to the contract. Ask for a detailed estimate for the construction project and be sure it includes material and labor fees. Verify that all materials are included and check for specifics such as brand names, colors, sizes and styles.
  • Ask for a construction timeline. Be sure it includes a specified starting and completion date. Make sure all deadlines are clearly outlined in writing. If your garage MUST be completed by April 17th, make sure it is stated in the contract.
  • Include a motivational clause in the building contract. If you and the builder agree upon April 17th as the finish date, then add a statement to the contract such as, “If the garage is not completed by April 17th, $200 per day will be deducted from the contract price for each day the job remains incomplete after April 17th.”
  • Know exactly what you want before construction begins and discuss your needs and wants with your builder. Be very specific when you communicate your ideas and thoughts. Changing your mind after construction begins causes delays and adds extra expenses to your final price.
  • Be aware that no construction job goes completely smooth from start to finish. Difficulties, delays and other problems such as employees quitting, late delivery of materials and bad weather can happen during the building process. Be sure the builder factors an allowance into the schedule for weather and other unexpected problems. If no problems occur, you’ll be pleasantly surprised when your garage or garage apartment is completed ahead of schedule.
  • Don’t expect your construction contract to prevent problems. Delays and problems arise during construction that cannot possibly be written in the contract. It is necessary to incorporate an allowance in the schedule for these types of delays and that you are cooperative with your builder and the builder is not unreasonable to work with.
  • Inquire about how the subcontractors are to be paid for their work. Are you responsible for paying them or will the contractor pay them?
  • Avoid paying too much up front. It is common to pay a portion or percentage of the total construction price up front to cover the cost of materials, but it is not a good idea to pay anything in full until the project has been completed.
  • Construction sites are messy places. Do not expect your builder and the subcontractors to keep the jobsite neat and tidy. Instead check the contract to be sure it clearly specifies the contractor is responsible for cleaning up the jobsite/lot when construction has been completed.

You can never be too prepared when beginning a construction project. Put as much time and care into hiring your builder as you put into selecting the perfect garage plan. It is essential that you hire a builder you can work well with because the long-term benefits will be well worth it.

For additional information, please read Choosing a General Contractor.

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