Residential architecture and construction is not always a clean, neat operation.
There will arise conflicts between Design and Build considerations.
Individual differences between participants will create competing values and concerns.
Dissimilar sensibilities impose varying standards for Quality Control.
And, when you're told by a contractor, "I'll be right over." Or, a supplier
says, "It'll be there by Friday." What does this really mean?
the Right Contractor
Locating a qualified contractor
can be an arduous task but the reward for perseverance is the successful completion
of a project with someone you know and trust.
This list of ways to qualify
a contractor is comprehensive and may seem overwhelming but it's the first step
toward quality control.
Check on these items before they're hired.....
- License and Registration Number
- Worker's Compensation
- Bond and Liability Insurance
- Number of years in business
- Financial stability
- Stable crew
- Credit standing with suppliers
- Fair prices and payment schedule
- Quality of rough work
of finish work
- Awareness of material waste
- Market Niche: custom, spec,
- Adequate crew for size of job
- Adequate supervision for size
- Do they begin on schedule?
- Do they end on schedule?
- Success with inspections
- Cooperation with other trades
between lead and crew
- Relationship with client
- Responsiveness to problems
- Availability: Answering machine, Voice mail, Email, Beeper
- Change Order
- Promptness on callbacks
- Relationship to reference
- Will they
sign a Lien Waiver?
- Will they accept a dual-signee check?
- Will the proposal
be based on complete drawings and specifications?
Don't sign a blank agreement form or make any cash advance payment. Consult
with a local lawyer familiar with construction contract law before finalizing
Visit the American Arbitration
Association web site. One of their "Focus Areas" is Construction and you may
want to incorporate their Construction Industry Dispute Resolution Procedures
into your contract. They provide a standard ADR Clause for your review and consideration.
Every situation is unique so Adapt-Modify this list to fit your situation
and the region in which you build! In the Pacific Northwest region, there's a
great way to initially determine if the individual or business is state-certified
for his or her trade by going right to the
Washington State Department of Labor and Industries web site to verify their
business is currently registered. Qualifying the right contractor for your project
is more complicated than merely confirming proper registration, but it's a decent
beginning point. Check out your state agency as well to see if it offers an online
Also, you'll definitely benefit from the advice of Barbara Ling in her ultimate
guide to "avoiding
the contractor from hell." After her harrowing experience with a shoddy
contractor she was inspired to write her wonderful, illuminating book indicating
all the red flags which may occur when you encounter a scam artist.
"Down Home with Tom Landis" Streaming Audio
Live Radio Show every Sunday afternoon from 1 to 2
DOWN HOME RADIO EXCLUSIVE
Selecting the Right Supplier
If you are able to personalize your relationship with
your suppliers, there will be mutual respect and understanding for the products
and materials required for your project.
Visit Lumbermen's Building Centers,
the lumber yard where I shop in our local neighborhood. I've developed a relationship
with the clerks behind the counter as well as the folks who work in the yard.
What's great about Lumbermen's Building Centers is their ability to work with
the professional and homeowner alike.
Homes to determine how they're organized to operate with consumers. Located
in Washington State, Lumbermen's Homes offers owner/build packages in a variety
of styles and sizes. Take a peek at their models and options! You'll want to find
a building component manufacturer in your area to make your project go smoother.
Your level of concern will be determined by how much you're spending: Are
you buying a bag of nails or $12,000 worth of appliances?
a supplier consider:
- Is their location near your site?
- Are you dealing directly with the manufacturer or distributor?
- How can
you limit the number of suppliers with whom you deal?
- Are you able to open
a builder account?
- What's the size of the company?
- What's the condition
of the supplier's yard/warehouse/shop?
- Can you sense turnover rate of sales
- What is the quality range of products being sold in store?
type of warranty/guarantee is being offered?
- Will installation instructions
be immediately available?
- Who provides customer service: supplier or manufacturer?
- Can unused material be returned for a credit?
- How do costs compare to
- Are discounts offered for early payments?
- Is itemized
- Does the supplier reference you to good installers?
the installers independent contractors or employees?
- Who else shops at this
- Who makes the delivery? Is there an extra charge?
- Who returns
- What is the supplier's system for quality control?
- Is a
standard form used by supplier with a purchase agreement written on the backside
in tiny print? What does it say?
If you're not sure what
terms fit your situation, discuss the issues with your supplier, then take
your time to weigh and consider the possibilities.
You must state your
terms clearly (and most times in writing) then assert your position at time of
purchase in the store as well as delivery at your site.
Visit the Better
Business Bureau web site. The Better Business Bureau provides instant access
to business and consumer alerts as well as helpful resources. Plus, you can file
a complaint online. This web site is provided by the Council of Better Business
Bureaus, Inc., and the BBB system of over 150 Bureaus located throughout the United
States and Canada.
As you negotiate with
contractors and suppliers, the terms of your agreements directly impact your project
work schedule and the flow of materials and products to your job site.
Quality Control of installation and worker's safety will often be based on the
"pace" of activities, the care and concern shown by all participants, and how
much time you're able to give to the details while still holding everyone accountable
for their work.