If you’re building a custom Arizona residential property, the contractor you select can make or break the project. Arizona has an abundance of contractors, but capable and trustworthy contractors are still fairly hard to come by. Unless you know how and where to search for a contractor, you could end up with someone who is disreputable and incompetent. On the other hand, taking your time to research and screen potential contractors will help make your custom project a success. To help you find the right contractor for the job, we’ve put together the following guidelines on contractor selection.
Starting Your Search
To get started looking for a contractor, first talk to your friends, family, and coworkers who live in Arizona for contractor referrals. Someone you know has probably had construction work done at some point and can recommend a reputable professional. If you’re new to the Phoenix metro area, try asking your neighbors for contractor referrals. Once you have a few names, make sure you solicit at least two or three bids. Comparison shopping will help you get higher quality work at a lower cost.
You will need to ask prospective contractors for quite a bit of documentation. Before you do, ask for the contractor’s business card. The card should list the contractor’s name, phone number, and a physical address in Arizona. Stay away from contractors who list a post office box on their cards. Here is the documentation you should request:
- Contractor license and registration number
- Proof of liability coverage for personal claims and property damage
- Proof of bond coverage
- Proof of worker’s compensation insurance for contractor’s employees
- Once you have the contractor’s license and registration number, contact the Arizona Registrar of Contractors to verify that it is up to date and legitimate
Checking References & History
To find out if the contractor has any complaints against him, contact the Better Business Bureau. You can call the branch in your area for this information. Phoenix and Tucson both have their own Better Business Bureau chapters to serve you. Additionally, good contractors should be able to provide you with a very long list of references. Skip through the list and choose at least three names to call. When you speak to the references, ask them the following questions:
- Does the contractor start and end on schedule?
- Does the contractor employ a sufficient crew to complete the work?
- Did the work pass inspection?
- Is the contractor easily reached by phone or email?
- Was the contractor responsive to your concerns or problems?
The Final Decision
After you’ve completed all of the above steps, you will need to choose among the bids you’ve received. Remember that you will not do yourself any favors by automatically choosing the lowest bid. Some Arizona contractors deliberately underprice their bids in order to win the contract and add charges as the work progresses. Take into account the contractor’s references and quality of work as well as the competitiveness of the bid.
Once you choose a bid, you will need to talk to your contractor about the schedule of your custom residential property project. You should establish a concrete start date and an approximate date of completion. The nature of construction makes firm end dates impossible, but if you need the work completed by a certain time, ask if the contractor can accommodate your needs. When discussing scheduling, also ask about your contractor’s management policy. Find out if he/she will be on site every day or will delegate the management of the project to someone else, such as a foreman. If your contractor uses a foreman, verify that you will be able to communicate with him/her properly.