Appointing a contractor is by far one of the toughest tasks when you are planning to build a house. While you have so many options on hand, not doing a proper ground work might lead to a disaster as the risk factor involved is high.
Building a house is a task where any person has to engage and avail the services of professionals and craftsmen to complete the job. “Well begun is half done” is an old and proven maxim. More often than not, people do not do a due-diligence before appointing contractors to build their house.
The following points will give any aspiring home-builder a few insights about what to look for when appointing a Contractor:

  1. Construction is all about Trust: So if you are a first-time home-builder, go for somebody who has a solid name and a trusted reputation. The best way to do this is to inquire among your friends, relatives and acquaintances about anyone who they might have employed to build their house. If there is indeed somebody they know or recommend, it is worth your while to check him out. And trust your intuitions.

  1. Site visits is a must: Visit sites (both completed and ongoing) of the Contractor in question and get first-hand experiences about the kind of work they have done/are doing. Talk to previous owners (preferably someone who engaged the Contractor’s services recently) and find out about the Contractor from them. Make sure that their area of expertise and your needs match. Ensure Contractor sticks to the site rules and the site’s safety plan. Check if the contractor and the crew adhere to the safety measures.

  1. Manpower and performance: When visiting ongoing projects / sites of the Contractor, see how he is managing the site. Site organization (material handling, storage and management) and manpower deployment are good pointers to check out a Contractor’s reliability and performance. Good contractors keep an equally efficient site engineer at site full-time to ensure these.

  1. Sticking to Timelines: Check if the Contractor has a schedule for the project completion. Check to see whether the project‘s timelines and completion schedule are vis-a-vis ‘Planned and Achieved’ and ascertain the delay period (if any) in the project. Find out if the Contractor has a plan to make up for the delay without compromising on quality or side-stepping standard Construction practices.

  1. Attitude of the Contractor: One of the most important aspects to check is the Contractor’s attitude and general behavior. Check how he responds to calls and if he is reachable over the phone. See how he treats his own staff (on-site & in his office) and how he refers to his Clients (past & present) If he bad-mouths somebody to you, there is a good chance he will talk ill of you, in case of any break-up in the project.

  1. Check how the contractor reacts to criticism: Good contractors welcome constructive criticism on their previous works. Make sure the quality consciousness of the contractor meets your demands and if he would be ready to work for it at any cost.

  1. His importance to documentation process: Does he insist on the proper documentation of the drawings, bill of quantities (BOQ), specification list, detailed break-up of costs and a thorough list of exclusions and services?

  1. Contractor’s financial standing in the market: There will be times when he will have to invest his money to run the project. You would not want money you paid for your project being used to build someone else’s house.

  1. Seek the advice of your Architect/Consultant before appointing the Contractor: Let him meet your Architect and have a discussion with him on the project plan. A seasoned Architect will be able to read a Contractor quickly and tell you the pros and cons with him. Amateur / Unprofessional contractors generally prefer to skip an Architect’s approval and that could help you ascertain his confidence.

  1. Finally draw up a water-tight Contract Document: Make sure that your contract document gives you, the Owner, sole and absolute right over your property and project. In case of any dispute, termination of Contract and/or Arbitration, the Contractor must never hold the keys to the site or project. One never knows what damage one can do when things go wrong between two previously on-good-terms parties.

As architects, we take up the responsibility of not just the design, but also the appointment of right contractors to execute the design. We’ll be glad to help you in case you need any help in this important task.


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