Deciding on which contractor will build your home is a critical step in making your dream a reality. There are many things to consider when making your choice.
ROLE OF THE CONTRATOR
The contractor’s role is to control the construction process and manage all aspects of the job from start to finish. They will work from your floor plans, obtain the necessary permits for construction in your local area, and arrange for materials to be delivered to your site from your local lumber yard when needed. The contractor will also manage other necessary trades people (excavation, carpenters, electricians, plumbers, drywall installers, etc.) that will work on your home so that they arrive when needed and complete their jobs efficiently and quickly. All this will be done in a time frame that you agree on and at a quoted cost.
Contractors should be members of the provincial or local home builders’ association which requires them to conform to a code of ethics as well as attend courses on the latest techniques, building code requirements and technologies to remain in good standing. They should also be licensed to work in your area and you should be able to see these licences upon request.
Contractors should also carry insurance in case of an accident during construction or in the event of a dispute. You should be familiar with the rules required by your local government, your home owner’s insurance policy and your bank to ensure that you understand the liabilities involved with building a home and how to protect yourself.
LOCATING A CONTRACTOR
It takes more than just looking in the phone book to find a contractor. A good place to start is often with friends, family or neighbours. Ask them if the contractor they used lived up to expectations and delivered what was agreed to. Ask if they had any problems with the contractor and, if so, how they were resolved. Most importantly, ask if they would hire the same contractor again. You want to know they have a good reputation and a history of satisfied customers.
Your local home show can be a perfect place to look for local contractors who do the type of work that you are planning. You will be able to talk with several contractors and see photographs of their projects while learning about construction materials and getting advice from professionals.
You can also approach the Canadian Home Builder’s Association (visit www.chba.ca). They will be able to put you in contact with contractors from your local area that are members in good standing.
DO YOUR HOMEWORK
Before you begin hiring, take the time to do research. Go online to familiarize yourself with the materials and local requirements for your job. You can’t expect to learn as much as the professionals, but by educating yourself you will more likely be able to identify a contractor that may not be fully competent (or even dishonest). Educating yourself now will also save you time and increase your confidence later when it comes to making decisions like picking fixtures and making choices on items such as flooring materials that will have to be done when construction is under way.