Hiring The Right Arbor, Deck, Fence or Gate Builder
Finding the right builder can seem a daunting process for a homeowner, especially if it is your first time or you have had a bad experience. But taking the time to find the right builder is a good investment ... if you want to avoid a lot of frustration and headaches, love the finished project and get what you pay for.
Most of the problems I hear about are caused by hiring the wrong person or company for the job or someone who is building beyond their capability or cutting corners to save time and money.
To avoid this, I suggest that you do not have unqualified builders come and look at the project. That wastes your time and theirs and opens you up to the "hard sell" that might lead you into making a hiring mistake for an offer that sounds too good to be true.
Finding The Right Builder
To hire the right person or company, you need to find the contractor who can build exactly what you are looking for, at a fair price, in the time frame you want.
To do that, you need to ...
Here are a few more ideas for finding the right builder for you, along with more about what to look for and avoid.
Know What You Are Looking For
Many homeowners skip this preliminary step, hoping that the builders who come to give free estimates will know what you need and come up with the ideal thing for you. But that is letting the contractors control the process ... and make guesses about what you want and can afford.
What works better is knowing what you want, and seeing which builders can help you make the most of your ideas and meet your needs within your budget.
This starts with you doing some research to ...
When you are done, make a list of the things you want in the design. Write out the features and functionality you need. Next, jot down ideas for the materials you prefer and the style you want, as well as any special features you'd like to see if you can afford. Attach any copies of photos or information that inspires you or illustrates what you want.
Have A Good Selection Criteria
The next step is having a clear idea of what you are looking for in a builder. This will save you hours interviewing contractors you are not interested in and avoid hiring the wrong one.
The first place to start is knowing what type of builder you need ... and that depends on the size, complexity, and skills/tools needed to do the job.
There are four types to choose from ...
Basic Builder for Basic Projects
Basic builders focus on building simple, small projects and doing repairs. They offer ...
Custom Builder for Custom Projects
People choose a custom builder for a projects that are beyond the design and building skills of a basic builder, or where a higher level of quality is needed. A custom builder has ...
High End Builder for High End Projects
For the highest quality or or challenging projects, a high end builder has the experience, tools, skills and building standards needed for the job. A high end builder has ...
Cheapest Builder for Below Average Projects
There is last type usually causes most of the problems for homeowners due to poor quality construction, a lack of good building practices, poor problem resolution skills and a lack of follow through. Cheapest builders provide ...
Once you know the type you are looking for, make a list of the things you want in your builder. You can use my ideas below to get your ideas flowing. And then also write down the things you do not want in a contractor ... things to look out for and avoid .. the fly in the ointment that will drive you crazy. You can use past your experience, as well as the suggestions of friends and neighbors to put this together.
Things I Want in A Contractor
Choosing The Right Builder
Once you have a good list, you are ready to start looking for the right builder. You can go online, ask your neighbors or co-workers. Or try a referral service like Angie's List.
It is nice if you can do a preliminary screening online, to eliminate anyone who is not in the building type you need. Check out their portfolio, prices and client testimonials. See if they have already built something similar and match most or all of your selection list ideas.
You want to look for ...
You want to avoid ...
You may want to narrow the list to your top three or four ... but sometimes there is one that seems to stand out as the best. If so, you may want to contact your first choice and have them come out and see if they can build what you need.
If you want to shop around, call the others first and see if they can build what you need, then call your first choice. Make sure when getting multiple bids that each contractor is bidding on the same project, so you can compare the estimates you get. Often, designs can evolve with each builder, and the estimates may end up being for very different projects, with different materials or special features.
Trust your instincts, because you are giving your builder more than just a paycheck. You are giving him or her (and their work crew if they have one) access to your home, pets and children.
Please do not copy photos and text
Last Updated: Jul 26 2012