By Brian L. Pruitt
The Essential Contractor is defined as one who is reliable and honest, completing his job when promised at a fair and reasonable predetermined price and without question standing behind his workmanship. There are many contractors out there in the world. However there are few and far between that are competent in several areas of workmanship. That in itself is not totally a bad thing. If you have one contractor that you use for everything it is obvious that he will take longer to complete your list of projects on your property. On the other hand if you have a select few contractors that you utilize, you will have a more diversified contractor force, that in theory will complete the tasks in a more time efficient manor.
Constructing a list of essential contractors is vital to your success as a real estate investor. These contractors will not only perform a variety of repairs, but will give you bids on suggestive repairs allowing you to make wiser decisions when it comes to your current and future investments. Having a list of selective contractors will also allow you to keep your contractors in check with their bids.
On your search for the essential contractor you can either choose a general contractor, who will hire all the sub-contractors that will be needed to complete your projects. Or you can decide to be the general contractor yourself which can save yourself some money in the overseeing of the projects. If you have some basic understanding of remodeling and construction work this may be the way to go. However, if you are too busy, or don’t have a clue when it comes to rehabbing a home, then leave it to the professionals.
Your essential contractor can be found in many ways. You can let your fingers do the walking through the yellow pages. Watch for the BIG ads, as they tend to be the most expensive. Check the classified ads in your local paper. Look for business cards at your local Lowe’s or Home Depot. You may even be able to spot some essential contractors “to be”, on the job of another investor. Another great source is asking your local real estate investing club members. They can help you in many ways and possibly save you some of your hard earned profits.
Once you have made a list of possible essential contractors you need to meet with them one on one.
1. Set a specific time to meet with them. See if they are punctual.
2. Ask how long they have been in business. Usually the longer the better. But don’t rule out someone who has great talent and is now in a new career field due to layoffs in the area.
3. Do they have references. Get addresses and phone numbers along with the names.
4. Do they have their own truck and tools. If not beware.
5. How well do they communicate with you. Communication is vital to the success of your project.
6. Do they have liability and workman’s compensation insurance? Get a copy of their insurance policy prior to allowing them to perform any work.
7. Do they seem to have the big picture when it comes to what you are trying to accomplish in your real estate projects.
8. Are they looking for a long-term relationship with you. If you plan on a lot of projects don’t get a weekend-warrior.
9. Inquire about seeing some of their former projects. See their workmanship.
10. Talk to their former project general contractors. Whether it be an investor, such as yourself, or a general contractor who hired the prospect as a sub-contractor in the recent past.
Never, never, never pay prior to the completion of the project. Paying on the draw system is expectable. Once a certain pre-discussed part of the project has been completed, then you would pay your essential contractor a portion of the entire bid amount. Keep in mind when you owe the contractor, that is your assurance that he will be around to complete your project. Now this sounds harsh but once you have developed a relationship with your essential contractor you may want to ease up on the reigns slightly. Remember, your essential contractor is a vital part of your team and once the relationship is established and proven, this person should be recognized as such.
Contracts. Get everything in writing from your essential contractor in a contract. Put everything in this document including the small stuff. When things are in writing and signed by both parties there is nothing to debate.
Last, but by no means least, have your contractor sign a “release of liens” prior to final payment. This document, in a nut-shell states the contractor has been paid in full and relinquishes his rights to place a lien against your home. This is a safeguard for yourself against any crooked contractor who, even thou being paid in full, claims he has not, and places a lien against your property in hopes he can get some “free” money out of you. I recommend you seek advice from your attorney on this process.
Now, get started searching for that Essential Contractor.
Keep Reaching, Keep Dreaming!
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