How to Select a Contractor
There are many very good contractors in the area, but there are others who are not reputable and likely do not have the knowledge and/or financial resources necessary to be a contractor. Unfortunately, the growth in the area is resulting in unqualified contractors entering the market. Currently, there is much more work than there are contractors to do the work. This combined with the fact that the state of Texas has minimal licensing or bonding requirements for building contractors can make it risky to hire a contractor. This oftentimes result in an unhappy customer and even sometimes results in litigation. How can you avoid this potential problem and select the right contractor? Speaking from experience, by doing your research.
Several times over the years I had projects done at my house that had nothing to do with a swimming pool. These projects oftentimes involved hiring multiple contractors, and it reminded me how complicated the process of hiring contractors can be. Although I have not always got it right, for the most part I have been very satisfied with the work that I have had done, and I credit it to hiring good, reputable contractors who perform quality work and then stand behind their work when something goes wrong.
Regardless of the type of contractor you plan on hiring—home builder, home remodeler, landscape contractor, pool contractor, home audio/visual contractor, etc., here are some helpful tips that will help ensure that you select the correct contractor for the project:
Are they a stable company?
Financially stability is probably the most important part of the selection process. Do no assume that all building contractors are financially stable—investigate. Get a reference list and contact the references to find the strengths and weaknesses of the contractor. It is a good idea to check Google reviews and ask others who have had similar work done. Financial stability also includes carrying the proper insurance. Homeowners can be ultimately responsible for any personal injury of construction workers or lawsuits, due to subcontractors’ negligence. If the selected contractor does not have the proper insurance, it can leave a consumer open to tremendous liability.
How much knowledge/experience do they have?
The knowledge/experience level of the contractor selected is very important. Proper knowledge of construction techniques will ensure a top-quality project. The quality of a project is measured in direct relationship to the person who is in charge of its construction. Quality subcontractors are not enough. The builder must have substantial knowledge of construction to know where problems can occur.
What kind of reputation do they have?
When choosing a contractor, it is essential that you have complete confidence in the company. Will your project be constructed properly? Will your project include the latest innovations for lasting beauty and durability? Will the company be around if you have problems in a year, five years, or a decade from now? It’s astounding how many contractors have come and gone over the years—how few companies have stood the test of time and can assure you of getting a premium quality project with a long term commitment to your satisfaction.
How much do they charge?
One of the biggest mistakes I see when selecting a contractor is basing everything on price alone, instead of options that you want and need. Although price is important because no one wants to overpay, it is important to select a contractor that will let you know what the options are and give you what you want before the project begins (not afterwards). It would be like buying a car without an air conditioner, although you bought the car for less money, you really did not get what you wanted. If you cannot afford the type of project or the contractor of your choice, maybe you should wait until you can, instead of rushing into it. Bottom line—it is a good idea to never make money the number one priority in building a project—once that happens, bad things start to occur and the customer rarely ends up happy.
When can they start and complete the project?
BE AWARE! We all want the project started right now and we also want it finished as soon as possible. Unfortunately, the highest quality contractors are often the busiest and farthest behind. It is similar to restaurants—there is a reason that you have to wait at the best restaurants. I encourage you to be patient and wait for the contractor that you want to use—there is a reason that they are behind. Be aware that some contractors give untrue information regarding start and completion date—saying what you want to hear in order to get the sale. If they are dishonest about that, what else will they be dishonest about.
Although doing your research cannot guarantee that you will be happy with the end result, it will certainly increase the likelihood that you will have a good experience with your building contractor and enjoy your project for many years to come.