How do you find a good contractor, architect and designer?
Carefully. The professionals you hire will quickly become part of your extended family.
First, be certain that anyone you hire is skilled in the services they render, easy to work with, and acts professionally. Yourcontractor and his or her crew should arrive on time, keep the construction site clean, properly supervise subs, and get the jobdone to your satisfaction in a timely manner.
Ask friends and family for recommendations about tradespeople, and about professionals they've worked with -- and want to workwith again. Call area architecture and design schools, and jot down names you cull from newspapers and magazines.
Once you have several possibilities, it's time to play sleuth.
Schedule an appointment with each candidate, preferably three per category. Ask each how long he's been in business, whattypes of projects he typically takes on, how busy he is now, how much he thinks your project will cost, and how long he expectsit will take.
Make sure you check out a recently completed job and ask former clients for input. Did the project came in on budget and ontime? If not, why?
Check the Better Business Bureau or a comparable source. Ask about insurance coverage, licensing and bonding. Follow yourgut. If someone doesn't return your phone calls promptly, he's unlikely to do so on the job.
Make sure you iron out specifics in advance and put them in writing. If you don't have a written contract, you could be in bigtrouble.
Ask for plans, materials and samples to be used. Find out how differences will be resolved. Get to know your contractor's dailyroutine, including what time everyone will arrive each day. Figure out who will have a key to your jobsite.
Determine how often you'll be informed about the status of work and problems. Big problems should be conveyed immediatelyso an alternate plan can be devised.
Create a schedule of payments that is tied to completion points in the job. Don't pay more than 10 to 15 percent of the feeupfront, and put your payment schedule in writing. And, withhold at least 10 percent of the total fee until the project is done toyour satisfaction.
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