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Here’s How to Choose the Right Building Contractor

by Lou-Ann Jordan Feb 6, 2023

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Findyello article on how to choose a building contractor with image showing  a contractor's tools

Embarking on building one’s home is exciting. We begin to visualise just how the structure will sit on the property, its size, the number of rooms, and where each room will be situated. 

We fantasise about the interior: colour palettes, walk-in closets, kitchen cabinets, bathroom fittings and tiles. Before we get to that point, there is the issue of how to go about choosing the right building contractor. This question is by far the most important because it will impact the outcome of your project.

Building a home is a huge enterprise, and naturally, it comes with its joys and, at times, setbacks.  Sometimes, those setbacks can result from an unreliable building contractor or unclear expectations between the homeowner and the building team. However, such pitfalls can be avoided, and you can enjoy the process while working alongside someone reputable and skilful, displaying excellent artistry. The task is wading through those who are not and finding the one that is.

Yello wants to help.  Here we provide several useful pointers for choosing the right building contractor.

Findyello article on how to choose a building contractor with image showing homeowners shaking a contractors hand.

How to choose the right building contractor

Ask around – Close friends and acquaintances are a pool of contacts that can provide information on the contractor’s reputation, whether good or bad. You or someone you know may, in turn, know of someone who has recently used the service of a building contractor. A willing recommendation may be an indication that the project went well.

Get professional referrals – In addition to gaining insight into their reputation, you want to know who they’ve worked for and their level of experience. The scale of the project your friend’s contractor completed may be smaller or larger than yours. Your architect is an excellent place to start when seeking referrals. Generally, they have encountered several contractors working on various projects. They may have ready knowledge of the person’s level of experience.   

Shop around – Building your home is a meaningful, long-term commitment. Therefore, you must find the right contractor. Collect quotes from several contractors. Peruse them carefully, and don’t select one because of a low bid. The quotation should be a comprehensive breakdown of the fixed total costs, inclusive of VAT. The breakdown should include all the material, transportation, and labour costs for each phase of the project. Also, expenses for unforeseen events or lost days should be provided. Lastly, it should stipulate the timeframe within which the prices quoted will remain valid.

View completed jobs – It’s often suggested that you view the contractor’s work when you’ve narrowed your search, but this can also help decide who to shortlist. Either way, visiting jobs completed by the building contractor is always a good idea. It will give some indication as to the type of projects with which they’re familiar. Moreover, while there, you may get an opportunity to chat with the owner about their experience with the contractor. You can also find out whether the project was completed on time and within budget and if they were pleased with the finished product.

Have a chat – Having a few discussions with the potential contractors to get concerns and questions answered will help provide meaningful information regarding their work ethics, communication skills, and managerial skills. Many projects get off to a good start but fail to finish due to a breakdown in communication between the homeowner and contractor. You can ask these two questions:

(1) What are some common challenges you have faced on project sites?

(2) How did you overcome them to deliver the project on time?

This list is by no means comprehensive, but it’s a terrific place to start if you’re thinking about building your home and are looking to hire a building contractor. Remember that your building contractor is in charge of the entire project and will be the person with whom you will communicate constantly about its progress until it is completed. It’s an important relationship, so do choose wisely.

Do you know the contractor’s name but not the number? Then, search Findyello for the business name. Alternatively, you can search our “Building Contractors” heading for a list of local contractors.

Sources: Citizens Advice, Eden District Council and Liberty Insurance.