Selecting the Right Contractor for your Association
Now that you have your bids, it’s time to select the right contractor for the job. For starters, let’s make sure the contractor is insured and properly licensed to do the work. It is also wise to find out if your insurance will cover any of the work before it begins.
Always check references and do your homework. Find out from other Associations or members if your contractor has a solid reputation. Be sure to get a list of previous clients and take the time to call and visit some of the projects they recently completed. Here is a list of questions you should ask your contractors:
- How long have you been in business?
- What is your current workload?
- How negotiable is your price?
- If we agreed on price, when would you be able to begin?
- Is your contract all-inclusive or should I expect extras?
- Who would be my contact person during the process?
- Can you provide a list of your building-material suppliers?
- Does your contract include the necessary permits for this project?
- What are your payment terms and arrangements to ensure the job gets completed 100%?
Evaluation of your Bid Packages
It is the industry standard to get estimates from at least three (3) contractors. Each estimate should describe a list of the work to be done, materials required, labor and the time frame to complete the project.
The cheapest price isn’t always the best. By accepting the lowest bid, you’re likely to be less satisfied because the finished product may be inferior. Make sure your contractors are bidding the same materials so you can compare apples to apples.
It is also best you have an understanding of your plans and job specifications so you can follow the process to completion. Try to avoid cost overruns due to a contractor low-bidding the project.
Make sure your contract is complete and includes the contractor’s name, address, license number and timetable. It should also include the payment schedule and any subcontractors he plans on using before work begins.
There may also be specialized equipment required, demolition and clean-up provisions. Make sure the contract is always signed by both parties. Avoid binding arbitration provisions that prevent you from suing if there is a conflict or dispute.
Make sure the contractor includes any addendum that also includes items that are reusable, such as wiring, plumbing, trim and subfloor if it is sound. Do your homework and understand the brand names of all products, appliances, or fixtures to be used.
Most municipalities have building codes, so please make sure you put the burden on your contractor to obtain all permits and keep him liable if work is not up to code standards. Make sure you have the assistance of an engineering consultant, if required, to ensure all work is completed within general conformance with the design specifications.
It is common place to pay as you go. Work that is completed in stages will be paid in stages and that will ensure your contractor keeps up pace with the projected timeline. Some projects require larger down-payments due to material or labor.
If there is a problem during the course of the project, always make sure your contractor fixes the problem before he continues onto the next stage. Sloppy workmanship should be pointed out in the beginning of a project or as it is happening to avoid costly fixes later on. Always make sure you hold back at least 5-10% of the money for 30 days, which is common place.
Never make your final payment to your contractor until he has signed a lien waver releasing you from all other subcontractors and suppliers. You will want to avoid third-party claims on your property in the event one of his suppliers or subcontractors does not receive payment.
Kipcon Engineering has been consulting for over 30 years and assisting homeowners associations, condominium associations and community associations in all aspects of bidding services, which include creating specifications for contractors to follow, sending out bid packages to contractors and complete oversight throughout the construction phase of the project. For more information, call 732.220.0200 or click here.