How to Have a Fair Relationship With Your Barndominium Contractor
I have been a contractor and I have hired contractors. As much as you might wish to believe it will not be so, contractors can be a source of stress and anxiety. They can be masters at squeezing out profits, while putting in minimal efforts.
Before going further, grab a cup of coffee and journey back to this article before moving ahead: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/11/a-contractor-for-your-new-barndominium/
Buy Materials Yourself
I do not trust contractors to buy materials for me. Contractors generally have no qualms about using leftover materials from prior jobs, or purchasing cheaper materials than specified. If you seriously are concerned about material quality, take control yourself. Be aware, when contractors purchase materials for your barndominium, they will mark them up. Paying for materials yourself assures you of not having liens against your property for bills your contractor did not pay.
It is very important you make decisions on exact materials you use for your home. With each type of material, there is a high end product, low end product, and something middle grade. Educate yourself on differences between each type of material, so you can choose based on your needs. If you allow a contractor to make any of these choices for you, they can really screw you over. Picking right materials can make a huge difference. If a contractor picks wrong materials, things are bound to go wrong.
Only Use Engineer Sealed Plans Specific to Your Building
Your contractor may have decades of experience, but unless he has initials “P.E.” (Professional Engineer) after his name, he is not qualified to make structural decisions. Have any deviations from plans reviewed and approved by your building’s engineer.
Always Get a Minimum of Three Labor Bids
If all three are relatively close in price, this is plenty. If someone is extremely low, there is usually a reason and most often not a pleasant one. Do not ever tell a contractor there are no other bidders, it gives them too much power. Competitiveness brings accountability.
Do Not Tell a Contractor Your Budget
If you tell a contractor your budget is $20,000 they will find a way to make their bid $20,000, even if it should be lower. Instead have them provide a bid for work you need done, so you can compare cost of their labor with other bids, to make an informed decision.
Never Ask a Contractor for a Discount if You Pay Upfront (or in Cash)
It is an extremely stupid to offer to pay a contractor entire amount owed upfront. If you pay a contractor upfront, they can end up not doing a good job, or some will even take your money and disappear.
Paying a Contractor
Never pay more than a very small amount upfront, then pay them as predetermined ‘milestones’ are reached. Always save final payment for after all work is finished and any punch list work is completed satisfactorily.
Do Not Tell a Contractor You Are Not in a Hurry
If you tell a contractor there’s no rush to complete your project, they will give your job lowest priority possible. They will take on other jobs and spend their time doing other things, besides getting your job done.
Establish written timelines in your contract, with financial penalties for not completing steps as agreed.
Never Hire Anyone Illegally
Some contractors might offer to bring in people who are not legally licensed to work on your barndominium. You should never hire anyone not having legal authority. If you are not diligent when hiring a contractor, you risk a huge liability if someone is injured. Make sure contractor is licensed and insured, and has evidence of an insurance policy. Be aware of any subs brought in by a general contractor, to ensure they are covered under their policy.
You must be critically careful any subs hired by a general contractor are getting paid. Always pay subs directly, because if you only pay your general contractor, there is no guarantee he will pay his subs. If a general contractor does not pay his subs, you could end up with a lien filed against your property.
Do Not Agree to a “Gentleman’s Agreement”
Always, always, always put your agreement with a contractor in writing. Having everything in writing has nothing to do with trust. It helps ensure everyone remembers what agreed upon terms are. Months later you do not want to start arguing over what was originally agreed to. Contracts should be very detailed, including all expectations for both parties.
While these might seem like pretty simple guidelines, they are a lot more difficult to practice in real life. Oftentimes, we get busy, and try to take shortcuts in life. Do not take shortcuts with contractors or you will regret it. Take time to do things right, and be very careful when working with contractors.
A lot of contractors actually have a criminal background. This does not make them bad people, it is just important to know someone’s history from an ethics perspective. If you do not fully understand how serious working with a contractor is, you will get taken advantage of.
And lastly, do not try to screw over your contractor. It is very important good people you hire make a profit.