Often times when someone talks about hiring a contractor, the conversation, blog or article always centers around typical selection criteria; which in my opinion, should merely be used as a prerequisite in order for contractors to be considered for selection. The selection criteria that I’m talking about are as follows:
- Make sure the contractor is licensed
- Make sure that the contractor is insured
- Never select a contractor that asks you to pull the permit
I believe that there is much more that goes into selecting a contractor and the more time spent on the selection process can make the difference between a bad construction experience and a good construction experience. Upon verifying that the contractors have fulfilled their prerequisites (you must verify the information), you need to schedule an initial meeting with them (no more than three tops) to discuss your project. During this initial interview, you should be trying to determine whether or not you and the contractor connect. If you are married or have a significant other, It’s extremely important that both parties are present.
Most contractors will attempt to utilize this most important time to tell you about their success on previous projects and “Wow” you with the best photographs of their previous projects. To each his or her own; however, I think this meeting should focus more on you discussing your project goals, to include budget (Yes, budget it’s ok to disclose this “SACRED” number), completion requirements, and overall project expectations. The contractor should then be expected to respond to your project goals. An honest and experienced contractor will be able to immediately communicate whether or not your goals are realistic or overly optimistic. You should also be observing the contractor’s mannerisms to see whether or not he or she maintains eye contact and present an aura of confidence (not arrogance) while delivering their response to your inquiries. You should also pay particular attention to the contractor’s appearance. Is the contractor well groomed and organized. You may even want to ask the contractor the following questions:
- Why did you decide to become a contractor?
- What do you love most about what you do?
- What do you consider to be your greatest strength as a contractor?
You should also expect the well healed contractor to ask you a few questions as well and you should be forthright in your responses. Don’t be afraid to discuss your budget and how you intend to fund your project. Besides price isn’t everything. Your ultimate goal should be to get the best overall value (I’ll deal with this issue “Price” in an upcoming blog).
After spending some time discussing your project with your potential contractors, you should be able to make a better decision as to which one will be better to work with. Remember, time invested up front will increase your chances of having a successful project.
Eric L. Haynes is CEO of Inner Urban Holdings, A Florida Based General Contracting and Real Estate Investment and Services Company. To learn more about Inner Urban Holdings, LLC., visit our website at www.innerurbanholdings.com.