I read a study once years ago that ranked building contractors below used car salesmen. This is not to say that all used car salesmen are bad, but they have, over the years had a stigma of…shall we say…not being the most honest and trustworthy. For builders to have been ranked below them was very confusing and a little disturbing. I then realized that I viewed customers differently than a lot of builders. For me they aren’t just customers, a project or just a way to earn money. They are my friends. If you are looking to spend money to have a project done, sometimes a lot of money. Isn’t having a friend who is looking out for you and has your back the best plan? We’ve all heard the stories of the storm chasers that came through town after a hail storm. They get money for material and then never come back to do the work. What about the guy that was laid off from ‘his job’. He has a pickup, a hammer and a skill saw, heck he can build a deck for his buddies cousin. Oh, don’t forget the kid that worked for a contractor for a couple of months and got fired because he wouldn’t show up to work. He’s now an experienced contractor. As a customer you can find a builder that will help you bring your ideas to life and has your best interest at heart. You need to know what to look for so you can find the right fit for you.
- Word of mouth – This is the best form of advertising. Find someone that you know and trust that has had a building project done. Ask them who they used. What their experience was like. This will give you a view from someone independent of the industry with nothing to gain.
- References – Don’t be afraid to ask builders for references. This is a good way to find a variation of ‘word of mouth’ and in addition to people that you know. A builder should be able to supply you with 3-5 names of past customers that you can follow up with. If not you should proceed with caution.
- Professionalism – The level of professionalism will vary between contractors. There is no one specific style or level that should be used in every instance. What you want here is to know that this builder takes what they are doing seriously. There should be something unsettling if you get a hand written estimate on a napkin.
- Experience – This comes with time. Not every qualified builder has years and years of experience, but the more years the more experience. You don’t want to hire that ‘experienced contractor’ that was fired for not showing up to work.
- Communication – Even small and simple projects require communication. Of course the bigger and more complex the project the more important it is to communicate. In today’s world there are all sorts of ways to do this. The specifics of how aren’t as important as the doing it is.
- Compatibility – This is the bottom line when it comes to determining who to use. Depending on what is important to you, what your focus is for your project. Find a builder that shares those core values. Each and every one of us is different. Take the time to get informed and find the best fit for you.