There are thousands of articles online that “teach” potential home buyers what to look for in a general contractor or home builder. Most come with the standard fare of “research multiple contractors”, etc. Heck, we even covered the subject on our last post (we’re biased, but it’s a good one--check it out here). However, the last post was more surface-level, and this post is focused on how to dig into a contractor's mind to more accurately assess whether they are a good fit for you.
We will go over two major business considerations you should be making that go beyond having "decades of experience."
The Current State of Construction
Let’s be honest, the average tradesmen is aging. It’s increasingly difficult to find young people interested in a career in construction. The combination of an aging workforce and a general disinterest in the trades has created a skill-gap in the current labor market.
All this leads up to many homeowners settling for the “most established” contractor in their area, or the one they hear on the radio most often….
While having an established brand and business and the extra capital to throw at radio ads are commendable and admirable achievements, they don’t necessarily guarantee a positive overall construction experience.
Despite picking the "most established company" in your area, any number of variables affect the overall experience, none of which are qualified by catchy radio ads. While every company is different, there are certain business behaviors to consider when shopping a GC.
Standardized On-Site Procedures
This one is easy to overlook, but it’s a critical indicator of a healthy internal process and business mentality: does the GC your considering have clearly established on-site procedures? The reason this is important is because every job site should operated under the same basic level of quality. The best way to ensure this quality is to standardize procedures, such as setting up and using power tools properly. This might seem basic and arbitrary, but standardizing basic construction procedures mitigates shoddy work and miscommunication, which are both too common in the industry.
An example of this may include an on-site poster visible for all on-site, or a Powerpoint presentation highlighting various stages for the homebuilding process presented for customers during the estimate. Having basic confidence in a contractor’s procedures is a critical step in decision making. Don't be afraid to ask the contractor if they have standardized on-site procedures.
Expectations of Communication
Be proactive in communication and assert your expectations early in the negotiating process. If a contractor you’re considering gets frustrated or annoyed over frequent communication, or the need for clarified expectations, they are probably not a good fit. Additionally, if they aren’t used to having proactive feedback, or they consider it out of place, they probably aren’t aligned with your values. Again, this may seem arbitrary, but if you're engaged with a business for multiple months, you're going to want to ensure they at least have the same expectations of communication.
Nothing’s worse than making a decision only to feel trapped in a bad relationship. You should be empowered to dig into the “mind” of the company, which goes beyond "multiple decades of experience". In your career, clear communication is demanded in order to be considered a contributing member of an enterprise. Construction is no different. Sure, you might not have the experience of a GC, but you know what clear communication is, and you shouldn't settle for anything less than highly professional. It's your home, after all.
To wrap it up, you should be considering business behaviors and mentality over "decades of experience", because there are numerous variables that affect the overall construction experience outside of skilled tradesmen. We hope these ideas are helpful to you in your search for a GC. If you have any questions, call us here, (720) 755-1112, or drop us an email from the home page.