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Finding, Vetting, and Selecting A General Contractor

Selecting a general contractor for your timber frame home is a very important decision. Your general contractor is responsible for constructing your timber frame home. From the excavation of the foundation to the final walk-through, they are in charge of all aspects of the building process. Before signing your name on the dotted line, make sure of what the company is providing. The services a contractor provides can vary, and each company has different views on the extent of their services. Most contractors coordinate the labor and see to assembling all the required materials in a timely fashion. Their job is completing your home within the set budget and on time.

Timber Frame Contracting

How to Find A Contractor

If your timber frame company does not have a list of contractors in your area, you can consult your local builders associations for references or our directory. When interviewing potential contractors you should find out how long they have been in business and if they have experience with timber framing. If so, for which companies have they worked. Make sure they are willing to work with the architect or designer in the design stage.  Ask questions such as how they handle change orders.

Using a Request for Proposal (RFP) is the  best way to get  apples to apples pricing. This is a package that includes construction drawings and specifications pertinent to the various details required to complete the construction of your home. These packets are sent to prospective builders and tradesmen asking them for proposals. This fair and competitive bidding process allows you to gather and assemble bid information accurately, so you can select the best team for your construction project.

Post and Beam Contemporary Kitchen

Contractors Responsibilities Checklist

The contractor manages the job site and supervises the work and the workers. This includes the plumbers, electricians and roofers, as well as carpenters and general labor workers. Workers may be in the employ of the contracting company or they may be sub-contractors.

General Responsibilities

  • Carrying out the desired plans and instructions of the clients
  • Effective communication skills when dealing with clients, professionals and local authorities

Financial Bid Process

  • Preparing Scope of work and RFP Documents
  • Establish a budget for the construction project and follow that budget as closely as possible
  • Draw Schedule and Breakdown – Used by the bank, owner and Contractor to help insure a smooth project
  • Prepare a monthly report – Containing a Budget Worksheet, copies of all Invoices, updated schedule and a overview of work completed that month and what is coming up.

Coordination of Construction

  • Adhering to the necessary building standards and safety regulations
  • Create and maintain a Construction Schedule
  • Ensuring the delivery of the needed materials and equipments
  • Calculate and correctly estimate the quantity of materials to be used
  • Having a site superintendent on site or be there constantly
  • Recruiting and hiring qualified subcontractors who will aid in the construction process
  • Liaison between the owner and the craftsmen on issues of concern

20 Questions to Ask your Contractor

Now that your timber frame home plans are complete, it is time to decide on a timber frame company and/or general contractor to build your home. You may find contenders in several different ways: referrals from friends, seeing a desirable home being built, visiting a Parade of Homes, attending home shows, or even by surfing the internet.

It is highly recommended to interview, and get pricing from , three different companies. In order to attempt to compare apples-to-apples bids, we advise you to use a Request for Proposal, and have detailed plans and specifications prepared. But you will still have questions you need to ask that go above and beyond budget estimates. You need to know your builders’ history and reputation, both in financial matters and client satisfaction. You will want to clarify who will be  in charge of your home’s construction, and how much time they will devote to your project. And you need to be sure of the expected time frame for completion (realizing that construction projects are subject to delays because of weather, suppliers or subcontractors).

So, before you make your final decision, here are 20 questions to ask your contractor. You may want to add or eliminate some questions, based upon your individual concerns.

Contractors Responsibilities Checklist
  1. 1
    How many years have you been building houses?
  2. 2
    Do you and all of your subcontractors have the necessary licenses?
  3. 3
    How many homes do you build per year?
  4. 4
    What type of insurance do you and your subcontractors carry?
  5. 5
    What is the average price range of the homes you build?Can we check with your banks regarding your credit history?
  6. 6
    Have you had any liens against your company?
  7. 7
    Can you provide references from customers whose homes you have built? May we contact those references?
  8. 8
    May we see a few examples of homes you have built?
  9. 9
    Will you build this as contract pricing or cost-plus?
  10. 10
    Will you provide an itemized budget stating detailed exact specifications?
  11. 11
    Who oversees the subcontractors on the jobsite?
  12. 12
    How often is the supervisor on the jobsite? 
  13. 13
    Do I have access to the site throughout construction? 
  14. 14
    Will I have a schedule as to when selections will be needed? 
  15. 15
    How will you communicate with me on the status of construction? 
  16. 16
    What is the estimated time frame for completion of this project? 
  17. 17
    What is your home warranty? Whom do we contact for warranty matters? 
  18. 18
    What is the process for payment and ownership? 
  19. 19
    Are trees to be removed sold? Can we utilize lumber from any of the trees? 
  20. 20
    Can you provide the following?
    • Evidence of workmen’s compensation insurance.
    • Evidence of liability and builder’s risk insurance.
    • Identities of the likely subcontractors.
    • References of three most recent customers.
    • Three trade references.
    • Bank reference.
    • Copy of state contractor’s license.
    • Terms of House Warranty.

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