Having your home built or renovated requires finding a builder you can trust. Otherwise, it will become excessively expensive and stressful.
Knowing how to choose a builder is the first step before you think about breaking ground.
Not all builders are the same, so know what to look for and recognize the signs when a contractor is not right for you.
1. Insurance and License
Start with the essentials. Never hire someone who isn’t properly insured. See the proof of insurance for yourself. If they won’t provide you with this information, walk away. If they do, take pictures of the documents and call the insurance company to check its legitimacy.
If building a new home, the contractor must be licensed by the Homeowner Protection Office. (Does not apply for renovation work, only new construction.) Again, see the license, take a photo of it, and check here.
2. No Customer Feedback or Reviews
Another helpful starting point in how to choose a builder is reviews and testimonials. Look on Google My Business, Homestars and Houzz. Sometimes the online Yellow Pages Directory has them as well. Can’t find any? That's a warning bell right there. But to give the benefit of the doubt, ask your prospective builder for names of past clients. If he can’t or won’t provide details, move on.
Professional credentials include more than pieces of paper declaring the project managers, designers and others have completed courses, although these are important. Look for memberships in organizations that require exacting standards. Being licensed through BC's Homeowner Protection Office, a provincial Crown agency, is a big deal and shows that your potential builder meets the highest standards that protect you.
4. Vague About Permits and Bylaws
When figuring out how to choose a builder, watch how thorough they are when discussing city permits and bylaws. If the builder glosses over the subjects or makes vague promises without exact details in writing, ask plenty of questions. If you still aren't satisfied with the responses, this builder isn't the one for you.
Detailed written contracts are critical. They must include scope of work, specifications of finishes, detailed drawings, payment terms, and many other details on how the project will be run.
It takes a lot of planning, organizing and attention to detail to make a construction project come together right.
If the contract is not clear, detailed, and complete, that's a strong sign that you may have the wrong builder
6. Not Giving You Full Attention
Many contractors run multiple projects simultaneously. But you want a project manager who gives you his undivided attention and keeps sub-trades people on the job. If the contractor disappears for days at a time, he's not doing right by you. That goes double if the sub-trades are also off the job. It's not OK to leave clients hanging.
7. Cash Payments
If a builder asks for cash, end the process immediately. There is no place for this kind of unaccountable practice in the Vancouver home building industry.
8. Disorganized and Out of Their Depth
Building a home or renovating one takes a lot of trades to pull off. If your builder seems to be all over the place or not sure if he can get the right trades to do the job, you may want to consider someone else. Chances are, your job will become a giant mess. But be careful, also, of the "Yes Man" who promises everything.
That's a simple "How to Choose a Builder 101". Choose the best Vancouver contractor you can find and enjoy your new or renovated home, secure in the knowledge that everything has been done right.
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