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What Should I Consider When Choosing a Building Contractor?

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  • Written By: J. Beam
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 27 August 2016
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Choosing a building contractor should be about more than just choosing the lowest bidder. A building contractor should be able to offer his clients more than just a low bid, but also efficient production, quality materials, quality construction, and security. Before you agree to let a building contractor perform work, you should thoroughly check out the company and get guarantees in writing.

There are two general types of construction that a building contractor is hired to perform. The first is commercial construction and these building contractors might perform all aspects of construction or might only perform specialized work such as concrete or roofing. You can check a company’s profile if they are a member of Associated Builders and Contractors of America (ABC). While not every general contractor is a member, those that are provide specific information about their companies that the general public can view. Similarly, just as with the Better Business Bureau, clients can lodge complaints against members.

The second type of building contractor is one that performs residential construction. Home builders in North America are often part of an association known as the National Association of Home Builders. Similar organizations and associations also exist in other countries, such as the Canadian Home Builders Association (CHBA). Again, members of an nationally recognized association are required to share company information in order to gain membership. These associations also provide information to the general public that helps consumers choose a building contractor.

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Just because a building contractor doesn’t belong to an association doesn’t mean they are unqualified, but proceed with caution. Smaller companies often choose to disassociate with some organizations either because of political beliefs or labor agreements and some simply choose not to pay the membership fee. Any building contractor you consider should be a member of the Better Business Bureau if not another organization, though. Avoid contractors who have no apparent history, as many building scams have been executed on unsuspecting homeowners.

You should obtain at least three bids, or estimates, of the work you are hiring performed. In all likelihood, the bids will be very close in amount. Proceed cautiously if one is much lower than the other two and be prepared to ask questions. You want to make sure that you are protected against drawn-out completion dates and unfinished work. You should also ask how much, if any, of the work will be performed by subcontractors. Subcontractors are not taboo by any means, but some companies lack the ability to efficiently coordinate and manage them.

Remember that while you do not have to hire a contractor who is a member of a recognized association, you may have an easier time defending your rights as a consumer if you do. In the end, you want to hire a building contractor with a stable business record, a competitive bid, and an ability to guarantee their work will be completed in a timely and efficient manner. Furthermore, they should offer a warranty on both their craftsmanship and building materials.

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