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Quality Control

Punch List


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?

Choosing the Right Contractor

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 Insurance
  • Bond and Liability Insurance
  • Number of years in business
  • References
  • Financial stability
  • Stable crew
  • Credit standing with suppliers
  • Cost consciousness
  • Fair prices and payment schedule
  • Quality of rough work
  • Quality of finish work
  • Awareness of material waste
  • Market Niche: custom, spec, or service
  • Adequate crew for size of job
  • Adequate supervision for size of job
  • Do they begin on schedule?
  • Do they end on schedule?
  • Clean-up procedures
  • Success with inspections
  • Cooperation with other trades
  • Relationship between lead and crew
  • Relationship with client
  • Responsiveness to problems
  • Availability: Answering machine, Voice mail, Email, Beeper
  • Change Order practices
  • 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 your agreement.

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 service.

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.

TRM Wood Products Co., Inc.
Click here to visit site

"Waiver of Lien" with Guest Bruce Wilkinson

Tom interviews Bruce Wilkinson, General Manager of TRM Wood Products. Mr. Wilkinson relies on 30 years experience as a lumber supplier and shares with consumers how best to work with a lumber yard to avoid problems with unscrupulous contractors.

 Visit Down Home Radio for the entire audio archive

Selecting the Right Supplier

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 TRM Wood Products, 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.

Visit Lumbermen's 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?

When selecting 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 staff?
  • What is the quality range of products being sold in store?
  • What 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 the competition?
  • Are discounts offered for early payments?
  • Is itemized billing offered?
  • Does the supplier reference you to good installers?
  • Are the installers independent contractors or employees?
  • Who else shops at this business?
  • Who makes the delivery? Is there an extra charge?
  • Who returns damaged goods?
  • 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.

OBS Newsletter Signup 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.

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