How Do I Find A Reputable Contractor? - PJ Builders FAQ
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FAQs

HOW DO I FIND A REPUTABLE CONTRACTOR?
  • Check the Park City Area Home Builders Association (PCAHBA) for local contractors specializing in the kind of work you want done
  • Check with the Better Business Bureau for contractors in good standing
  • Ask friends for referrals
WHAT QUESTIONS SHOULD I ASK A CONTRACTOR?
  • Are you local? If so, how long have you worked in Park City?
  • Is the work I want done your specialty?
  • Are you licensed and insured?
  • How are you staffed? What work is done in-house (by actual staff/employees) and what work is farmed out to sub-contractors?
  • How do you price jobs? What is your mark-up?
  • What is your Warranty/Guarantee?
  • What do you charge for a consultation? An initial on-site walk-through? To create an Estimate/Bid?
  • Do you require a deposit? If so, what is it?
  • Can I get a list of some previous clients?
  • Do you have any working or completed jobs I can go see in person?
BEFORE I CALL, WHAT SHOULD I HAVE READY?

It is the clients responsibility to define exactly what work they want done and to have a preliminary budget in mind before contacting a builder. The more details you provide the contractor, the better. The end result of your consultation will be that the bid amount is closer to reality (and your expectations), and it will help prevent confusion or disappointment down the road. By withholding information, the contractor may calculate a bid for different work in scope and quality from what you really want.

 

When you meet with a contractor, have ready:

 

  • A detailed description of the work you want done (an addition, complete or partial kitchen remodel, etc.)
  • The square footage of the project or rooms
  • What quality of materials you want: medium range, hi-quality or cheap? (For example: flooring, countertops, tile, appliances, fixtures, etc.)
  • Architectural plans (if the project requires them)
  • Time frame/Schedule: Start date? Completion date?
  • Your budget (or range) dedicated to this project

 

Remember, the more details you can communicate, the more realistic the estimate will be.

WHY SHOULD I REVEAL MY BUDGET? ISN’T THAT TIPPING MY HAND?

Your budget is a vital component for a realistic bid. If you want to be taken seriously and establish credibility, it is best you reveal how much you want to spend. Once your budget has been established as realistic, in line with the work you want done, a good contractor will work to stay on target. Think of it as establishing a partnership. There is no sense in asking a contractor to give you a bid, a process that takes sometimes days to create, for a $10k kitchen remodel if you only have $3000. A good contractor will help educate you on current pricing, and prioritize your wish list to narrow down the scope of work to fit within the budget. If your budget won’t cover it all, he may suggest doing the work in phases, allowing you time to save for each phase.

HOW DO I COMPARE ESTIMATES AND CHOOSE A CONTRACTOR?
  • Request estimates from about 2-3 contractors, relaying the same budget and details to each. Ask for a detailed estimate showing line item pricing for each component of the job.
  • On the estimate, expect to see 2 categories: LABOR (for demolition, plumbing, framing, flooring installation, painting, etc.) and MATERIALS (like appliances, countertops, flooring, tile, fixtures, lighting, windows and doors). Most times, there are numerous subcontractors involved.
  • Compare line items between each bid to ensure they’ve included everything. If not, ask.
  •  Compare the estimates. Are they all somewhat close in price? This confirms the realistic expense of the job.
WHAT IF ONE ESTIMATE IS WAY LOW OR WAY HIGH?

Buyer Beware of one bid that is out of line with the rest, or looks “too good to be true”. It usually is. Customers who choose the cheapest bid, usually end up paying the difference in the long run; whether it is in quality, time of completion, or unexpected charges along the way.

 

  • An estimate that seems overpriced compared to the others may be from an experienced, reputable, higher-quality contractor; and the less expensive looking bid may be from a less-experienced or out-of-town contractor who has low-balled his numbers (perhaps based on using lower grade materials) just to get your job.
  • The best estimate is not always the cheapest one. Builders who are licensed, insured and doing things by the rules have more overhead. Working with them is preferable to dealing with someone working out of the back of their truck, who you can’t find 6-months later when your new faucets leak or your doors don’t close right. Using a handyman for a small job is OK but for anything more extensive , you will want to know they are going to be in business a year from now and, most importantly, that they are insured and pay their subs, suppliers and workers. If they don’t get paid, they can file a lien against your home.
  • While it’s great to negotiate, you do not want to run the price down to the point a contractor feels there is no longer any profit in it for him.
  • Check the state for licensing, and the Better Business Bureau for their rating and any complaints.
  • Call their references/past clients.
  • Also important is personality. Large, multi-faceted jobs can take months to complete. For that reason, you will want a contractor you like and will feel comfortable working with through the entire process. Listen to your gut during your initial consultation/walk-through/proposal to decide if a contractor is a good fit for you and your project.
WHY DOES IT COST SO MUCH TO BUILD OR REMODEL?

The majority of homeowners personally experience a custom build or remodel. How often do you shop for lumber? Or electrical installation? When someone decides to build or remodel, the estimates can be a shock. Building or remodeling is custom work and there are no cookie-cutter packages. It is important to do your research to understanding the realities of the industry.
If you are simply painting the walls, you only need a painter. If you are building a complete home or remodeling several rooms, that requires multiple experts like excavators, framers, electricians, plumbers, landscapers and painters; it is best you use a Contractor rather than try to coordinate all of these trades individually. A contractor’s job is to oversee the many facets of the project: approval of architectural plans, obtaining permits, securing licensed quality subcontractors, ordering material and orchestrating deliveries, and passing inspections – all the while keeping an eye on the schedule and budget. A contractor is paid for their knowledge and ability to oversee the myriad of details, ensuring each step is done in the proper order and address any issues that may arise. A good contractor has an established relationship with their sub-contractors (electricians, plumbers, framers, etc.) who are likely to give them a better price than if you called them directly. A good contractor also ensures their sub-contractors are all licensed and insured. Perhaps most crucial, a contractor assumes the liability if the wrong materials are delivered, something is damaged, installed wrong or doesn’t work after installation.
Most contractors charge a mark-up (usually 15-20%) which is the fee for their services. It is surprising that a builder can sustain his business – paying staff, skilled carpenters, subcontractors, insurance and taxes – out of a meager 15% profit.

WHY IS THE FINAL COST ALWAYS MORE THAN THE ESTIMATE?

In most cases, costs increases are due to changes made by the client along the way. This is common in most construction/remodels. Increasingly, the scope of projects exceeds budgets by as much as 50 percent. Why? What may have begun as a simple cabinet upgrade turned into a more extensive kitchen remodel.
As the work progresses, there are numerous opportunities to make changes and upgrades. For example the client’s original choice for carpet (or tile or appliances, etc.) kept the estimate within the budget but it’s not what the client (or his wife!) really wants. It is at this time that clients can – and should – make their final selection of plumbing fixtures, tile, carpet, paint, appliances, etc. The more people are involved in making these decisions, the greater the likelihood of changes being made along the way. Even something as straightforward as painting involves numerous decisions: Do you want one color, or several? Did you pick a Designer color? Do you want to paint or stain the trim or replace the baseboards all together? What about the ceiling? How much patching is required?
It is a good idea to work with your contractor to create plans that are less expensive than your end budget, letting them know that you are setting funds aside for material and fixture upgrades along the way.

WHAT IF I WANT TO DO DECIDE TO CHANGE SOMETHING ALONG THE WAY?

Your budget is a vital component for a realistic bid. If you want to be taken seriously and establish credibility, it is best you reveal how much you want to spend. Once your budget has been established as realistic, in line with the work you want done, a good contractor will work to stay on target. Think of it as establishing a partnership. There is no sense in asking a contractor to give you a bid, a process that takes sometimes days to create, for a $10k kitchen remodel if you only have $3000. A good contractor will help educate you on current pricing, and prioritize your wish list to narrow down the scope of work to fit within the budget. If your budget won’t cover it all, he may suggest doing the work in phases, allowing you time to save for each phase.

WHAT IF I DON’T LIKE WHAT THEY ARE DOING?

This process is a partnership. If you are on the same page at the very beginning, chances are you will get what you want. If at any time during the process you don’t like what you see, ask questions. It could be that you are seeing only the first of many stages of that particular item or something as drastic as the wrong carpet being installed.
A good contractor will be in constant communication with you, providing updates, progress photos and discuss any unforeseen situations. Agree in advance how often you want to hear from them and if you don’t hear anything, call and revisit the issue.
It is your house and your money, so don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you need to feel comfortable with a contractor. In the end, the contractor is there to make your vision come to life and will not stop till the job is complete.