As the saying goes, you get what you pay for.
Without a doubt, price is right at the top of the decision-making pyramid. But what good is a great price if you either end up with a finished project that leaves you less than fully satisfied; or with unfulfilled expectations or in the process of getting to the finish, the conflict and stress has you “swearing to never do this again!”
If you let price dictate your selection, it may not be just the contractor who’s to blame. I expect to get all sorts of negative feedback on this (I think that’s the diplomatic way of saying it) but many of these problems fall squarely on the shoulders of the customer when they make price the ONLY major issue. As the saying goes, you get what you pay for.
In my opinion, integrity/communication ranks right up there with price in the decision process. And you can only gauge the value of the connection between you and a contractor in a face-to-face interview. With some construction companies, this may not be possible. As we’ll see when we get to the “Problem Resolution” series, the individual who is ultimately responsible is the licensee and if the company has multiple jobs going in geographically separate areas, it is doubtful that you’ll ever meet him or her. Instead, you may have one person you negotiation the contract with (such as a sales representative) and a different person who then takes over and manages your project.
In some cases, they may be one and the same. In others, the Project Manager may have several projects going at the same time. You’ll need to find out who is going to be responsible for meeting the contract obligations and will be on the job; supervising employees, subcontractors and others. If for any reason you aren’t meeting with the licensee, than it is that person, the Project Manager, you’ll want to meet with and get comfortable with before you sign a contract.
Reducing conflict and stress
I know the preceding may sound a bit self-serving in that I have a policy of reviewing the details of each project directly with my clients before I commit to it. That policy has served me well over the years – especially in terms of reducing conflict and stress – but I believe the customer also benefits. There’s no ‘passing the buck’ when the General Contractor has reviewed the project on the job site with the customer and has to give his or her personal OK prior to each job start. Any excuse regarding not getting the full picture from the sales rep or Project Manager goes right out the window.
The face-to-face interview is next.