A Consumer Guide to Better Remodeling
This contractor selection guide has been prepared to assist homeowners during the contractor selection process of your construction project. The material contained in it is based on information provided by Architects, Manufacturers and Trade Association, as well as Consumer Protection Groups. They provide this information as Contractor Selection Criteria Guidelines for homeowners.
Getting a Contractor to Bid Your Work
Some homeowners are confused when contactors are not over eager to bid their work. If a contractor believes you are not ready to work, or you are just a price shopper, they may feel you are not worth their time. Here is how you can get them to bid.
- Tell the contractor you are only getting three bids, you are not looking for ten.
- Tell the contractor you are not looking for the lowest bid, but the best value for your dollar.
- If you were referred to the contractor or you saw his work and liked it, make sure to mention that.
- Tell the contractor all involved parties will attend a meeting and set aside adequate time to discuss details, so the contractor is confident everyone is in alignment and he/she will be able to achieve one hundred percent customer satisfaction.
Ranking Contractors Using this Proven Formula
This method consists of the 5 performance P’s: Problem, Product, People, Price and Process. Based on these, you can create a 0–130 point ranking system that drastically reduces the risk of ending up with the wrong contractor, enabling you to make a wise remodeling investment, rather than a remodeling expense, throwing your money down the drain.
The next step is to assess each contractor based on the above five components and rank them accordingly. Asking important questions in these 5 areas, which are listed below. Scoring them in each of the questions in the 5 areas between 0 and 5.
Scoresheets to Help Rank Your Contractor
Determining and Qualifying Your Needs, what do you want to fix or remodel.
Questions you should ask
- What is the proper design or scope for your project?
- What are the specifications that will achieve the scope of the work?
- What criteria are required for the Contractor Qualification and Selection
- Does the contractor have adequate insurance?
- What are the risks and liabilities of uninsured, or underinsured contractors?
Understanding the value of the answers to these questions is simple, does the contractor understand your needs and have the basic business acumen and experience necessary to assist you in completing your project.
Satisfaction and Trouble-Free Service
Questions you should ask
- What are the preparation requirements that impact long-term performance?
- What are the proper materials for the project?
- Do the manufacturers have any special requirements for their long-term warranty?
- What are the craftsmanship requirements?
- What styles, options, grades, and warranties are available?
The result of putting together; the proper specifications, with the proper materials, applied by quality craftsman, is Satisfaction and Trouble-Free Service. The right contractor, based on your needs and budget, will guide you in selecting the product/materials you SHOULD use, not just the ones you COULD.
Never Buy a Product Buy a Contractor
Questions you should ask
- How long has the contractor been in business?
- Is the contractor active in their community?
- Is the contractor a member of his/her trade association?
- Is the contractor licensed?
- Is the contractor approved or certified by the manufacturer?
- Can the contractor provide references?
Never buy a product… buy a contractor. Good Product + Bad Contractor = Bad Job. The right contractor has: the right answers to problems, uses the right products and specs, has the right people, has the right process, and has the right price. Does that make sense?
The right contractor will guide you to ask the right questions. They, being the professional, understanding that this is not something you do every day, will make certain the topics that need to be discussed, are front and center. Think about the relationship with your doctor, a good one understands that you may not know what to ask and brings up the things that are important for a good outcome.
Expense or An Investment?
How do you determine if the price is right?
Questions you should ask
- Has the contractor worked nearby for price comparison?
- Has the contractor done similar projects in scope and size?
- Are there potential unforeseen and unknown extra costs?
- What are your options for funding your construction investment?
- Is the contractor’s proposal clear and understandable?
You may save some money by choosing the lowest bid, but the risk of poor workmanship is too high to be worth it. The most important thing when evaluating a contractor based on price estimates is to balance between cost and value. How is the value of their services relative to the price they are charging? This is critical, your experience hinges on you understanding this.
“The Bitterness of Poor Quality Remains Long After the Sweetness of Low Price is Forgotten”
You need to be especially careful about questionable contractors charging rock bottom prices. Ask why their estimates are that low. It could be that there are other hidden costs you are not aware of, or that the contractor is planning to leave things out of the project that will prove to be critical to your long term satisfaction.
Generally, don’t let the price issue influence your decision too much. Price is important, however, focus on the other P’s first – problem, product, people and process, before getting to price.
Peace of Mind; A contractor is only as good as their written game plan, without a written plan, results are unpredictable
Questions you should ask
- Does the contractor have a written process for material selection?
- Does the contractor have a written process to confirm the proper materials are delivered?
- Does the contractor have a written process to ensure it is built properly, to the highest standards, not just to code?
- Does the contractor have a written process for inspection?
- Does the contractor have a written process for handling disputes?
Get a good run-through of their work process before you hire any contractor. Not only will this give you an idea of what to expect when the actual project starts, but it will also show you how well they work and how organized they are. To rank a contractor properly in this area, you need to ask the questions above.
Adding Up the Scores
Our ranking system starts from 0 (very poor) to 130 (excellent). To get the final score, add up the individual scores you have awarded them in every P above. Compare the sum against the following scoring categories to see how each contractor has done.
- 100-130 Excellent – Ideally, your final choice of a contractor should be in this range. The contractor is friendly, efficient, has vast experience, has many positive reviews, and charges fairly based on the type of project.
- 75-99 Good – The contractor is friendly but may have fewer reviews and a smaller portfolio, most likely because they are relatively new in the market. But they have proven themselves in the short time they have been around and the prices are not too bad. Be careful that they will stand the test of time. The number 1 reason contractors go out of business is, they charge too little to provide proper customer service and be profitable.
- 50-74 Moderate – The contractor may have several unhappy past clients, or they may not be experienced in your specific kind of project. You may also feel that they are charging a bit too much based on what they bring to the table. If you decide to go with a contractor in this range, be sure to ask lots of questions in the areas that you are concerned about.
- 0-49 Fail – they perform poorly in most if not all the P’s. Avoid at all costs.
Certified Contractors Network
Certified Contractors Network (CCN) serves to provide guidance and training for its network of independent contractor members, so they can provide homeowners the highest quality construction services at the lowest possible competitive rates.
In the unlikely event, you are ever dissatisfied with the services of one of our members, CCN can serve as an arbitrator, helping bring the dispute to a quick, friendly resolution for all parties. CCN provides you with a toll-free number
1-800-396-1510 so you can access the following information:
- Specification for a contracting project
- Consumer tips
- A member’s standing within our organization
- Arbitration services
Certified Contractors Network Code of Ethics
CCN Members have pledged to observe the highest standard of integrity, frankness, professional responsibility in dealing with their owner customers…
- By making no false promises or claims in advertising
- By providing professional, courteous reception when the owner calls with an inquiry or requests for bid.
- By keeping appointments at the agreed scheduled time. If a conflict arises, call the owner and reschedule prior to the appointment.
- By providing adequate time to meet with all involved parties, assuring there are a clear understanding and mutual alignment with the proposal and specifications.
- By providing a professional appraisal of the owners’ needs.
- By providing written specifications for the required project, according to manufactures specifications and industry standards.
- By encouraging only projects that are structurally and financially sound.
- By being licensed by local authorities and following local requirements.
- By being a certified installer by manufacturers, when applicable.
- By providing proof of insurance to owners.
- By providing customer reference list to owners.
- By fulfilling contract obligations.
- By providing manufactures’ long term warranty, when applicable.
- By providing a contractor’s labor warranty.
- By maintaining communications with the owner regarding any changes in schedule, the scope of work, or unforeseen conditions.
- By providing safe work conditions, according to OSHA/WSIB guidelines or industry standards.
- By being professionally responsive to owner service calls.
- By attending continuing education programs.
- By aspiring towards 100% owner satisfaction.