Choosing a Contractor

Choosing a Contractor

It may seem daunting at first, but choosing the right Contractor and doing your due diligence upfront will be the most important decision you make in any construction or home improvement project.  A great sales pitch, set of plans, or flashy website doesn’t always translate to actual competence, honesty, skill, and integrity. And you and your contractor need to be partners through the entire process, so you want someone who you trust to work “with” you, not just “for” you.

So, how do you go about finding just the right Contractor to work with?

Start with the basics, understanding the “what” of what you’re asking your Contractor to be responsible for.  Of course the most important responsibilities of your Contractor are to be able to handle the typical tasks like pulling permits, scheduling, obtaining quality materials, and executing according to the designed plan.  But that is the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

Every construction project is full of lots of constantly moving parts.  There are sub-contractors and their schedules, material suppliers, what needs to happen in what order, material ordering lead-times, and a host of other tasks that go into a perfectly choreographed master schedule. And every perfectly scheduled plan, is subject to a surprise or two.

As a homeowner, understand the intricacies of your project, and expect your Contractor to do the same.  A competent and experienced Contractor expects shifts in scheduling and navigates through them all with a solution-oriented mindset. This skill makes all the difference between a successful and fun project, and a nightmare.  There can be a cascade of unexpected events that a general contractor may have little control over, but it is his/her responsibility to ensure the least amount disruption to a homeowners project.

If a Contractor is competent in his/her project management, it shows up as happy clients. Look for them.  A good place to start is your local Better Business Bureau to see if he/she has gotten positive/negative reviews, and, if there were any complaints (whether legitimate or not), that they were handled fairly and integrally.

Your next best source of information will be referrals, personal recommendations, and personal interviews.  Ask your friends and neighbors, and don’t be afraid to ask your contractor for a referral list.  Talk to his/her past clients personally.  You might receive a listing from your contractor that is “cherry-picked”, so look to see if you can find a past customer of theirs from other sources, like a building department.

Next, figure out what is really important to you.

  • If timing and speed are critical to your project, maybe you need to move in an elderly relative next month, then you may be best served to hire a volume-based Contractor so it is finished fast, regardless of quality.
  • If your priority is price, for say, a young family just starting out, then you might be best served by the lowest bidder. But as always, BEWARE.  Often in the construction industry, the savings you thought you were getting with the lowest bidder later evaporate into the haze of change orders, extras, inadequate allowances, and headaches.
  • If your priority is full custom, then you may be best served to find that special hands-on master carpenter who does it all. Hand-crafting is a special skill that takes years to learn, and sometimes, years to complete.
  • If your priority is a combination of these, we’re your company! We offer 3 lines in order to satisfy all priorities:
    • Diamante
    • Rubino
    • Esmeraldo

More info will be coming soon on these three lines.  Stay tuned!

In any case, look to a Contractor’s Business Model.  An integral company will have designed their business around delivering upon certain promises.

Here are a few things to look for:

  • Will I get their undivided attention?
  • Who is going to actually manage the project?
  • How do they guarantee quality construction? (View our Quality Specifications here as a great example)
  • Does the design provide the highest and most desirable, functional use of space?
  • Are they respecting my home, privacy, and property?
  • Do they have strong referrals? (we don’t select only the good ones, we always provide the current, and last 2 finished projects as our referrals which is supportable in public records)
  • Is there going to be consistent communication, and from someone knowledgeable and who cares?
  • Do they have a team of trustworthy and talented sub-contractors?

These are exactly the questions we asked ourselves when we designed our Business Model, and what our Bella Basement Promises are all about!

Here’s our Bella Basement Promises:

Click on any of these to find out more!

At the end of the day, you want to feel comfortable that you’ve chosen a Contractor you can trust, and we recognize how hard that can be.  Sometimes, it just comes down to simply meeting each Contractor, and going with the one you feel the best about.  As they say, trust your gut!  We care about the experience you’re going to have, and we look forward to meeting with you, and earning your trust!

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