Orchestrating a Harmonious Renovation: Ensuring you and your contractor strike a chord

Posted by on Feb 1, 2013 in Property Management | 0 comments

Orchestrating a Harmonious Renovation: Ensuring you and your contractor strike a chord

The buzz of the skill saw, the pneumatic bang of the jackhammer and the rat-a-tat of the hammer are the symphony of sounds that surround me.  Yes – I am in the middle of renovation project!


Finding a contractor who would perform quality work at a reasonable price was a daunting task. The following guidelines can help steer you away from unscrupulous, disorganized, inexperienced or financially troubled contractors who may deliver broken promises, bad work and blown budgets rather than professional results.


First Impressions: In any business, first impressions are important. How a contractor presents himself and maintains his truck, tools and equipment are good indicators of how well he’ll take care of you and your job. He should look neat and professional, and his vehicles and equipment should be clean and in good repair. There is no substitute for professionalism.


Do your homework: It’s always a good idea to ask for and check references and to contact the Chamber of Commerce or Construction Association of Bermuda for guidance and assistance.  A contractor with a record of character and professionalism will likely demonstrate those qualities on your project. A participant with the opposite track record will probably remain true to form.


Beware of Low Bids: Price is always an important consideration when selecting a contractor, but don’t let a low price or a special deal blind you to a potential problem—both can be signs that you should be wary. A bid far lower than others may indicate the contractor isn’t experienced enough to know the actual cost of the job or he never intends to finish the work. Disreputable contractors may bid low to secure a contract and then tack on extra charges as the job progresses.


Take Your Time: If you are pressured during the bidding process by tactics such as “limited-time offers,” look for a different contractor. Hiring a contractor is not a split-second decision.  A prospective contractor should take his time as well, carefully reviewing the specifications of your job before submitting his bid. If he doesn’t take notes and measurements and make material and labor calculations, or if he simply names a price based on a similar job, he may not be detail-oriented or thorough enough to do a good job.


Reconcile your contractors’ objectives with your own: You want your project to be completed on time and on budget. Provide a complete, accurate, and final definition of the goods and services involved in the project so that expectations are clear at the outset.


Only 20% Up Front: While the price may be right, what about the terms of payment? In general, don’t choose a contractor who asks for more than 20 percent of the total cost of a job up front. While some projects require a large initial payment to cover a deposit for products like cabinets or special-order ceramic tile, it doesn’t apply to commodity materials like lumber, which a legitimate contractor will usually purchase on account with at least 30 days to pay.


Beware of Cash-Only Jobs: Finally, a contractor who works on a cash-only basis raises a big red flag. Not only does paying in cash limit your financial recourse if problems arise, the contractor is likely not operating a legitimate business, which includes paying taxes and insurance. Look elsewhere for a professional to perform the work.


Construction projects will always bring noise, dust and general inconvenience; that cannot be avoided.  Using the guidelines above, however, you too can be confident that your selected contractor will meet your expectations.  That in itself provides a note of calm in the midst of the clamor.


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