Working With Contractors

With home sales slow or non-existent, many homeowners have decided to stay put and make improvements or additions. These means hiring a general or specialist HVAC Contractor in Mcallen TX to install new bathrooms, kitchens, floorings, pools, roofs and more means extra care must be spent in all phases of the project to insure a successful project.

The first step to any successful project is to obtain multiple bids for the work. This will help establish a fair price for the work. Failing to bid the project means that the price offered by the first contractor could be substantially higher than necessary. In addition, having multiple contractors can provide multiple views on the project and possibly better ways to complete the work.

Choosing a contractor should not be based solely on lowest price. Other factors that should be measured include the warranty offered, the experience level of the contractor, the brands and materials to be used, the experience level with the local municipality and the contractual terms.

Once the contractor is chosen, the owner must research the contractor’s license status and level of complaint, if any, before the contract is executed. Florida has a simple web site that allows a contractor’s license to be verified. Simply surf to, and select verify a license. Input the contractor’s name or number and specialty and construction industry under the license category to see the contractor’s license. Once the license is found, at the bottom choose view license complaint to see if the contractor has any past or pending complaints.

The contract is the next important step to a successful project. Many contractors use the AIA form contract which is a fair contract for both parties. Contracts can be fixed price or cost plus, which means that the cost of the materials plus an agreed profit, usually 10 – 20%. Issues that owners should have addressed in the contract include a penalty for late performance, retainage (usually 10%) of the contract price to cover completion issues, detailed warranty terms, proper insurance coverage (liability, workmen’s compensation and builder’s risk), and detailed plans and specifications setting forth exactly the work to be performed. The contract should also address who pays for permits, insurance, change orders and special equipment.

The Contract should include a draw schedule for when the contractor receives payments. The initial payment, or deposit, should not exceed 20% of the contract price. Many contractors receive too large deposits, and then run into trouble costing the owners financially when they have to terminate the contract. The remaining draws should be tied to performance by the contractor, either by percentage, such as five draws at twenty percent of the work completed intervals, or based on milestones, such as permit, demolition, rough-in, framing, rough final and final. The contract should also allow for inspections during the construction, especially at draw requests and a final inspection and completion of a punch list for post completion work.

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