12.1. To the best of you ability, assess your particular situation making the decision whether to hire the services of an Architect, Construction Manager or General Contractor or act as an Owner-Builder. As a beginning point, determine the level of difficulty required by your site location and homestyle requirements based on you life style. Review Olin’s Construction Principles, Materials, and Methods.
12.2. Use your “best guess” to analyze skill requirements for your project. Determine the complexity of skill required for Design-Build events so you can assess the level of competence anticipated to perform the required tasks. Separate complex tasks from routine tasks; in other words, distinguish high paying jobs from low paying jobs. Read Jahn's Residential Construction Problem Solver.
12.3. Interview prospective General and/or Specialty contractors. Qualifying contractors requires you get information about their previous work experience and how they are organized to operate. What you hope to accomplish is to match the right person to the right job. A good start would be to create a “Project Profile” for your home building or remodeling project, including a site plan and technical information describing scope of work. At this meeting you may also show a preliminary draft of your Drawings so they can offer suggestions that may improve "Design Development" as they offer their opinion regarding how the work might best be accomplished. Review Cook’s Superintending for Contractors.
12.4. Continue to negotiate with individuals and businesses that seem to satisfy your requirements. Watch how quickly an individual responds to you. This may be an indication of her/his level of interest in your project. More than likely, you'll interview several contractors to locate the right person for your job. Since Drawings and Specifications will be substantially complete, you'll be able to accurately reference these documents during the interview and contractors will be able to take a copy of each back to their office to workup a firm "Proposal." See Fredley’s Contracts with the Trades.
12.5. Sign “Agreement” with General Contractor or Specialty Contractors depending on whether you intend to act as an Owner-Builder or not. After reviewing project’s requirements, qualifying contractors, and negotiating conditions, you'll be ready to enter into “Agreement” on terms of your relationship. Politely reiterate your concern to maintain schedule, budget, and quality of work. Don't forget it's your responsibility to keep contractors informed of your expectations. Use Rob Thallon’s Graphic Guide to Frame Construction as a reference.
12.6. Send "Thank You" notes to Contractors. Request a copy of any document that you may need from their files regarding your project. If you withheld any money from the contract price for "callbacks" write a check for work completed and include it with the "Thank You" note.
12.7. Store all contractor documents and notes in the "Cardboard Box Files." Let Contractors know of your willingness to be a reference for them, and don’t hesitate to share your referral list with friends.
Each Trade Contractor takes responsibility for products and services related to their craft.
How will you qualify contractors for your project?
Review a list of 30 items for qualifying trade contractors.
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?
Cook, Paul. Superintending for Contractors.
Kingston: Means, 1991.
Fredley, John. Contracts with the Trades.
D.C.: Home Builder Press, 1998.
Jahn, Bart. Residential Construction Problem Solver.
New York: McGraw-Hill, 1998.
Olin, H. Leslie. Construction Principles, Materials, and Methods.
New York: Wiley & Sons, 1995.
Thallon, Rob. Graphic Guide to Frame Construction.
Newton: Tauton, 2000.