A homeowner will spend up to a year and a significant amount of money with the contractor they choose to build their home. We recommend considering the following questions as a guideline to understanding the service you will receive.

1. References:

Companies, like individuals usually refer you to people and projects they had good experiences with. It is important for you to know about all of their experiences. We suggest asking for the last 5 clients the contractor worked for this year.

Question for referral calls:

a) Deficiencies:

How did the contractor handle deficiencies & repairs? Everybody is human and mistakes do happen, the homeowner should never pay to repair work that the builder has been paid to do once.

b) Budget – Reporting vs. Managing:

It is common practice to report costs after they occur, this does not assist the homeowner in controlling and forecasting expenses and cash flow requirements for the project. A budget should be built from several versions, starting with broad assumption and completing with an accurate document supported by real design decisions and as many fixed costs as possible. The contractor should deliver a working budget to govern the cost of the project with a 5% contingency for unknown costs. With accurate plans and design should come accurate budgeting.

c) Site Conditions:

Your project site should be cleaned and presentable daily, this creates a safe working environment and encourages an efficient job site. We recommend unscheduled job site inspections as a great tool to gauge the professionalism of any crew. A quick call to the supervisor just prior to arriving will ensure safety measures are taken and you can see the site in operation.

2. Costs, Rates & Fees:

What are the hourly rates per employee?

What management fee will be applied to the costs?

What are considered costs to the project and what are considered non-billable overhead cost of the contractor?

Is it possible to fix the fee at a flat rate?

3. Time and material tracking

How are employee hours tracking and audited?

How are invoices assigned to the project?

How is the project budgeted and updated?

4. Professionalism

Request letters of clearance from Worksafe (WCB), ensure all liabilities have been paid

Request a letter of reference from the contractor’s bank and ensure payables are made promptly.

5. Sub trades

Have the sub-trades been paid promptly, is there any outstanding liens on any projects? How many sub-trades are regularly engage with the builder and for how long? A good report with subs says volumes about their professionalism.

6. Employees

How many full time employees does the builder employ and how long have they worked for the company?

7. Tools and Equipment

Does the contractor own all of the required tools and equipment to perform the tasks of your project, if rental equipment is required why and at what expense?

8. Capacity

What is the capacity of the builder to assign the required team to focus on your project continuously? How many personnel are certified trades people.

This isn't a fool proof list, but it will definitely start you on the right path.