Vetting Your Contractor - A coles-notes guide to selecting the right partners for your build!
We hope you enjoyed learning about our Floating Slab Kit in our previous Blog!
We left off our last news letter mentioning that we are going to provide you with our tips and tricks we use for vetting our subcontractors that you can use to do the same.
When we start a new project we may not be within the service distance of our preferred subcontractors. First we ask our preferred contractors if they know of anyone in the specific area and if not, we take the following steps to try to find the best candidate for our project.
1. Google - Try to find a list of contractors that will work within your desired work location and check out their reviews - specifically written reviews and not just a star rating. Sometimes, random ratings with no comments may not be a great sign, and will not provide insight to their quality of work, or character. If there are written reviews, read them ALL. You will gain a great deal of knowledge about the quality of work and how the company operates on a daily basis. (If you enjoy these blogs, feel free to visit our own review page! Trillium Steel Reviews)
2. Review Social Media - Are they active on social media? This isn’t always a great metric of performance, but can be an indicator of great performance! This also allows us to gain a brief understanding of their work ethic and quality of workmanship.
3. Review their Website - Does the potential contractor or subcontractor have a website? Again, there are some fantastic contractors and subcontractors with little to no online presence, this isn't necessarily a negative, however some contractors are hiding behind online anonymity. If a website is available you should be reviewing their “about” page to get an idea of who the person or company is and what their scope of services are. They may be able to take on only one aspect of your build or take care of the entire project.
4. Reach Out - If you’re happy with the research you have done thus far on a company or person—CALL THEM! The earlier in the day the better! If they're not answering their phone now, they wont be when you need them to!
5. Specifications - Be clear with your requirements off the hop. A contractor's time is valuable (as is yours) and if you can be mostly certain about your request right from the start, you will save your contractor time estimating the project. If you are unsure about two or three items on the list ie. recessed lighting vs. ceiling fans, or if you can afford the extra expense of the under-counter lighting, be upfront with your contractor. It's going to cost you more to add these items later on, than it will in the initial meeting.
6. Pricing - Obtain pricing using your list of requirements. This list can often be used as the contract itself, so ensure the contractor mentions your list of requirements “LIST OF MATERIALS AND LABOUR REQUIRED BY CLIENT - ATTACHED” in his proposal. Using your own list of requirements can also ensure you’re comparing apples to apples. It’s common for us to receive “less complicated” proposals that read out like “supply underground work and finishes at XYZ address for the sum of $XX,XXX.” In these instances we will specifically ask for the contractor to copy and paste our list into their contract, and if they’re less tech savvy, we can do it for them and print for signatures.
7. Timelines - Be clear on your timeline. It’s very important to create a Gantt chart of your project's anticipated timeline, and work with each of your trades to see where and when they would like to come in and out for certain portions of the project. You can create the chart using simple milestones such as underground piping, concrete pour, steel framing, wood framing, insulation, electrical, etc. This can also be completed by a professional contractor if you are using this guide to vet a professional contractor to handle your entire build.
8. Insurance - This one is the easiest, but most often overlooked of all of the requirements. You should ask for valid insurance prior to considering accepting a proposal from a contractor. You should also be concerned about Workplace Insurance for your contractors. Using Ontario as an example, you can click here and type any company name or address to see if they are eligible for a WSIB clearance certificate, which is mandatory for any employer with employees, as well as a bunch of specific other trades that do not have employees, but fall under certain classifications of trades.
9. Price - Proceed with caution! You're going to get a mixture of prices from the bottom to the top. As a rule of thumb, we will disqualify an unvetted contractor who is too far out of the range of the others (far too low or far too high). There is a recurring theme with anyone who has been taken advantage of or scammed by a contractor, and that is "the price point was very attractive". If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. If you need to, keep putting in the work to obtain more quotes, this is smart shopping, and will save you time and headaches in the future!
10. References - Lastly, our favourite—ask your contractor to take you to a previous client's project to see their work or ask for references. It's your duty to complete your own due diligence to ensure that work they are currently doing and have completed in the past meets or exceeds your expectations.
We have had great luck with the above steps for vetting any subcontractor that we are planning to use and hopefully you will share the same success. With that, we end this newsletter and look forward to next week's newsletter on the anticipated costs to complete our Twelve.0 kit!