From finding a professional contractor to understanding construction challenges, there is a lot of information to consider when building back your home. Our collection of tips and best practices, from a builder’s perspective, will help you navigate these decisions in a savvy and informed way.
Create a Short List-There are natural distinctions that separate qualified professionals from the fly-by-night general contractors. Has the builder worked in your area of town before? Are they a member of a national organization, such as Greater Houston Builders Association or National Association of Remodeling Industry? What is their rating with the Better Business Bureau? Can you find a third party review or testimonial regarding their work?
In Depth Interviews- Many people assume getting a bid counts as an interview, but that is not true. When interviewing potential contractors ask them about their liability insurance and the insurance of their subcontractors. Inquire about their familiarity with build back requirements and request examples of previous work similar to your project.
Contact References- Reach out to past clients and ask genuine questions. How was the contractor’s communication? Were they easy to reach? How did they update regarding the job schedule and progress? Was it comfortable having workers in the home?
Choose Your Whole Project Team- For a more comprehensive, whole-home remodel, or a ground-up rebuild bring all parties together at the very beginning. Having your builder, architect, designer, and structural/civil engineer all on board from the start will streamline communication, prevent drastic budget increases, and ensure the vision for your home is clear and correctly delivered.
Look for a Commitment, Not a Low Bid- There is a limit to the amount of work a firm can take on and still produce timely and quality construction. A professional contractor commits his resources and crews once an agreement is reached. You should not be in a line of potential jobs that a builder may not have the capacity to complete.
Understand the Effects of Harvey- Data shows construction costs post disaster typically increase. The shortage of building materials and lack of skilled labor to service the influx of projects will increase demand. Be prepared for your project to cost more than it would before Harvey. These same factors may also change the timeline and construction schedule throughout the life of a project.
City of Houston Permit Expectations- As building permits are reviewed on a case-by-case basis there will naturally be delays due to the massive volume of projects. The City of Houston is attempting to respond proactively by extending the hours of the Planning & Permitting Department. Also before Harvey, the city had implemented an online plan review system that was working efficiently.
For other practical advice and information about choosing a contractor, visit the GHBA Disaster Resource page.