It goes without saying that building a home has always been one’s dream since childhood. However, making this dream come true is a tedious task that includes a hefty set of a process starting from planning to execution. There are two sides to the story of building a perfect home. Selecting a prime suitable location and buying a piece of land is just the beginning of the story. Once you are done with this step, you are about to make the most important decision of your life.
The decision will determine how you will be spending the rest of your life in your own home. It will not be possible for you to build your home on your own without facing obstacles during the home construction process. You do not know the architects or laborers. Obviously, you are not going to present 24/7 to manage the entire work. Therefore, it is better to consult someone who is expert in this field. Yes, you need to hire a contractor who will work day and night in realizing your dream of having a perfectly constructed home.
First thing first, let us discuss the role and responsibilities of a contractor. A contractor is commonly known as the house-builder who is going to be the official project manager to build your home. A legal contract is signed officially discussing the terms and conditions and other legal formalities before a contractor is formally assigned the project. The basic duties of the contractor include:
- Managing and reporting agreed budget and timelines.
- Material selection and purchasing that includes bricks, cement, binding material, paints, sanitary and all other home accessories.
- Selection and management of a team of skilled labors
- Finding related sub-contractors that include carpenter, plumber, and electricians, etc.
It is imperative to note that above points are just to give a brief overview of the contractor’s job role. You definitely need to make sure that you are hiring the right expert for your home construction task. This piece of article will guide you to choose the right contractor. It is an elaborate compilation of nine vital questions that should be asked to any contractor before he starts to lay the foundation brick of your home. It may seem to be yet another house construction project for the contractor but for you, it is your life-long dream.
Question # 1: Contractor’s reputation and business history
Obviously, you need the best of the best contractor to construct your home. One ideal contractor is the one who has a thorough understanding, expertise and experience of the field. The best way to determine the work quality of the contractor is by looking at the business history of the contractor. You need to validate his practicing license and his reputation among both the clients as well as workers. Yes, a contractor may have a very good business history but he may not be a good manager towards his labors. He may not be giving them salaries on time or maybe he selects a substandard material for your house to save the money in his pockets.
You need to check following things about the contractor before he sets first brick of your home:
- Entire business history
- Previous house construction projects
- Current team of labors
- Contacts with other home construction related dealers
- List of references
- Clients’ feedback
Question # 2: Written Contract and agreement
You have verified the contractor and have crosschecked with other references. You know you are about to hire the right contractor based on your thorough research. However, it is equally important to write down all the details of the house construction project. The details may skip during the discussion so it is always recommended to write down the details, requirements, timelines, budgeting, and all other requirements on a paper and get it signed by both the parties.
Question # 3: How does the contractor supervise the house construction project?
A contractor is not just a single person who makes a construction agreement with the client but he is someone who will look after and supervise internal and external team members. He needs to communicate with the third-party material providers as well as supervise all the day-to-day tasks. He cannot be on-site all the time, as he needs to get out in the market to search for the related material.
Once, you have ensured the previous work and credibility of the contractor, you need to ask him about how he works, supervises, and manages the entire staff? He needs a team of construction project managers and sub-contractors who are going to assist him in different tasks on-site and off-site. It is your right to know his crew and his internal team management. You can ask your contractor to keep you updated regarding the different on-site teams who supervise the work.
Question # 4: Fixed Timeline
You need to ask your contractor regarding a fixed project start date and completion date. Do not accept to the terms in which the contractor tells you about a tentative timeline that can be modified if required. An experienced contractor knows exactly when to start constructing the home and how much time it takes to build a house of the given map, interior, and dimensions.
It is important to write the following points in the agreement before the contractor sets the first brick of your home:
- Exact start date
- Completion period
- Work distribution timetable
- Finishing time period
- Scheduled meetings
- Follow-up on-site visits
Questions # 5: Regular communications and Point of Contact
As discussed earlier, the contractor will not be supervising the on-site construction work alone. There is going to be a team of different supervisors and sub-contractors to look after the different tasks. You can ask the contractor about the point of contact who can be contacted anytime to discuss the construction progress. Also, agree on the regular communications and weekly meetings to keep yourself updated regarding the construction progress.
Question # 6: Financial breakdown and instalments
No contractor is going to set the first brick of your home without any advance payment. Since it is the responsibility of the contractor to find and buy the material so he requires advance cash in his hand to start the construction project. Moreover, he needs to hire labors and sub-contractors and given them, some advance salary. Although you have done research about the contractor obviously, you will not be giving him 100 per cent advance payment before he starts to construct your house.
You can always select the down payment and regular instalments before you sign the construction agreement. You need to ask the contractor about the advance amount he requires kick-off the project. The rest of the money can be given either on a need basis or on proper regular instalments. Again, the contractor should update you about the work progress and expenses. You do not want the budget to exceed your desired limits. A good contractor is aware of the approximate construction cost and does not overuse the set budget.
Question # 7: Financial Record
This question may seem to be an extension of the above question but it is more important to have a record of the cash flow. The advance payments and instalment amounts may be agreed in the agreement but you need to keep track of the money. The acknowledgements receipts and transaction history must be kept either online or on paper. For example, if you are giving check then receiving should be recorded. Giving petty cash is always risky as it is very difficult to keep a record. It is better to track the online transaction and receiver account details.
Question # 8: Final touches and clean-up process
The responsibility of the contractor does not end when the final brick is set. No, the last phase is all about final touches and tidying up of the entire house inside out. You do not want the labors to leave the place without thorough cleaning. The labors and on-site crew should dispose of the trash finish the floors, clean the washrooms and kitchen and was the outside area. It is a better approach to agree on the clean-up process with the contractor about the tidying-up process.
Question # 9: Dealing with disputes and backup
A lot of things happen in the runtime and you need to ask the contractor about his way of resolving disputes among different teams working on your house construction project. Does he keep a backup team in case any of his teams back-out due to disputes with other teams? How does he manage to take control of the situation and manage teams and budgets simultaneously? These questions are going to test the leadership skills of your contractor before he sets the first brick of your house.
It may seem to be yet another house construction project to the contractor but it is going to a home for you, where you intend to spend your life onwards. You just cannot rely on the word of mouth of the people recommending any contractor. Different people have different experiences with the same contractor. It entirely depends on you to choose your contractor by asking the above questions. You need to make sure that you have hired the best contractor who will start the project on time, will supervise different teams professionally and will ensure finished constructed house at the end of the construction project.