Running your own business comes with a lot of responsibilities and challenges, and as your business expands likely so will your construction needs.
So, whether you are looking for a commercial roof replacement or someone to build you a new office space, here are a few tips to help you find and hire the right person for the job.
One of the biggest errors you can make when hiring a contractor is going with the first one that you find. Yes, it is convenient, and you might luck into the best contractor for the job, but then again you might not and could end up losing a lot of money as a result.
Take the time to shop around, increase the scope of your search and look in places that you might not normally consider. Although you will find the biggest pool of contract talent in cities like New York and San Francisco, other areas such as Philadelphia and Denver have a large supply with relatively low demand, meaning you could save a bundle.
Regarding platforms, there are heaps of options to investigate. Platforms specifically designed to help people like you find gig workers, like Upwork and Freelancer, and social media platforms for professionals such as LinkedIn.
However, online platforms should not dictate your whole search, and attending professional networking events in person is a great way to put a name to a face and get to know several contractors before you hire them.
Ask family, friends, neighbors, anyone you know that has experience with the kind of contractors you are looking for.
Contact local trade associations and your local master builders’ association for professional recommendations. Although building inspectors probably won’t give specific recommendations for your needs, they may be able to tell you if particular companies work generally passes inspections.
Lastly, if you have used a tradesman before, such as an electrician or local plumber, and were pleased with the quality of work they provided, then ask them if they know anyone that they could recommend for your next job. Most contractors will often see the same names crop up at sites time and time again and will likely have people they consider reputable.
Check Licensing and Insurance
Having the proper licenses and insurance to properly facilitate the work you are after demonstrates a contractor’s credibility and knowledge. A license shows that a contractor has taken an exam and proved they know building codes and processes. Essentially, it stops business owners like you from getting ripped off!
Now, anyone can claim that they are licensed and insured, so it is up to you to ask for proof, so get the contractor’s license number. Most of the information is public record, with states maintaining databases of all their licensed contractors, so you will be able to check that everything is legitimate.
Regarding insurance, you want to pick a contractor that specializes in your project type and therefore has the correct insurance for it. Proper insurance cover demonstrates due diligence, and if your contractor does not have insurance and a worker gets hurt on your business property, then you could be liable.
Once you have a few possible candidates down for your project, around three or four is a good bet, schedule a quick meeting with each of them to ask a few questions. Simple things, such as how long they have been in business and whether they are licensed is a good place to start.
Gather a quick overview of their background, a candidate’s skills, experience, education, and capabilities are all important things to consider, but at the same time, do not be afraid to go with your gut. A candidate with a strong CV may not deliver the quality you expect, while a talented individual with less experience may go above and beyond.
Ensure that candidates have built a lot of similar projects, of the specific type and scale you are proposing, and ensure they understand exactly what you are looking for, including expectations and timeframes.
Finally, do not be afraid to ask for references. This will give you the best opportunity to find out the quality of your contractor’s service and any contractor that is confident in the work they provide should have a list of references from their clients. If they refuse to provide them or simply do not have any, then it is probably best to go with another option.
Have your top candidates provide written bids for the work you have proposed, based on the same specifications and timeframe, ensuring the costs are categorized for materials, labor, and profit, respectively.
A high price does not automatically equate to quality of work, but generally, a contractor will know their worth, so for your own sake try to avoid the temptation of automatically going with the lowest bidder.
I know, everyone wants to save money, but keep in mind that you are not just paying for a product but a service, including the years of experience and know-how of your contractor. So, if one person comes back with a significantly lower quote than the others it pays to be suspicious.
This is not to say that a contractor with a low bid is automatically pulling a con, they may genuinely be providing good value for money compared to their overly expensive competitors, but often contractors with too good to be true bids are usually just that, and you will likely be left with subpar work.
Put Everything in Writing
Finally, once you have settled on a contractor, and you are confident that you have the right person or people for the job, then it is time to write up a contract.
Incorporate every project detail into the contract, it should cover costs, payment schedule, start and finish dates, materials to be used, and the complete set of drawings and specifications that will be used for the work. You should also include some sort of lien release in case the contractor fails to pay subcontractors or suppliers.
There is no such thing as having too much detail in a contract, and always remember that if you and your contractor discuss and agree on anything outside of the contract that you make sure it is written down, dated, and signed by both parties. Evidence of the terms and agreements you have made will protect both you and the contractor in the long term.