We want to ensure that our potential clients have a clear understanding of the requirements for any construction project before beginning. Knowing that people have varying levels of experience, from rookies to veterans, our goal is to help all of our clients meet their construction and overall investment goals with personalized support.
Below are some general topics to get you and your construction crew on the path to success.
Finding the Right Contractor
Ask for Referrals
Start your search by asking friends, family or local acquaintances for suggestions. Be specific with your questions when getting a referral, including:
- What made it a positive experience?
- How did the contractor handle unforeseen problems?
- Would use the same contractor again – why or why not?
Do Your Research
Once you have a list of possible candidates, do some preliminary research on your own.
- Credentials: find out whether they hold all of the required licenses from state and local municipalities. Look for contractors who have invested in course work and passed rigorous tests to earn particular certifications.
- Their contact info: confirm that they maintain a permanent mailing address, e-mail address, personal phone number, fax number, cell phone and voicemail. Do your calls always go straight to voicemail? Is the mailbox always full? Not a good sign!
- Insurance coverage: do they carry insurance that protects you from liability? Ask for a copy of the remodeler’s insurance certificates to be sure.
- Relationship in the community: do they have a well-established presence in the community? How long has the company been in business under this name? Does the remodeler maintain solid relationships with contractors such as plumbers and electricians and work with them as a team?
- Customer reviews: do they maintain a trustworthy reputation among customers? Is there an observable track record of success? Can you find any independent review of their company online? Check Google, Yelp, & the Better Business Bureau.
Narrow your list down to two or three contractors, so you have options but are not overwhelmed. Ask each the tough questions – you should come away feeling comfortable with their level of experience and how they will work with you and your investment property. How a contractor answers questions is extremely important, but communication goes both ways. Candidates should ask you plenty of questions to demonstrate their interest and understanding of the potential job.
Request examples of the contractors’ past projects. Consider asking for references from current or past projects to verify their quality of work. Speak to those references about how the contractor’s performance in executing their projects. Were they on time and on budget? Were the customers pleased with the outcome? Was there anything that could have been done differently?
Remember that when you’re hiring a contractor, you are buying a service – not a product. Quality of service will determine the quality of the finished project.
Get It in Writing
After picking your contractor, carefully read the documents they have prepared. Do they look professional? Really scrutinize the contract. Does it seem fair and balanced? If you’re not totally comfortable – ask. This is your investment! And make sure the legal agreement includes the following:
- A bid price and payment schedule
- Specifics about the scope of work
- The site plan
- A sequential schedule of primary construction tasks
- A change-order clause
- A written procedural list for close-out
- A clause about dispute resolution
- A waiver of lien, which would prevent subcontractors and suppliers from putting a lien on a house should their invoices go unpaid by the contractor
It is crucial to get the proper permitting for the work you and your contractors intend to complete. Depending on project scope, there may be a number of different permits that are required. If your project is located in Philadelphia, please reference this link for more information.
If your project is based in another county, please consult your local building department to ensure that you are following all requirements.
There are a lot of things that go into rehabbing an existing structure or constructing a new home. While not exhaustive, our rehab checklist can be a good place to start.
Common Rehabbing Errors & Code Violations
We see some common mistakes new developers make that are easily correctable. These errors can cost your project precious time and money. To ensure that your project stays on track, verify that you and your contractors are well-versed in the required codes & permits required for your build.