Choosing A Contractor

You've heard the horror stories of projects that have turned to disaster due to the hiring of a contractor who in one capacity or another doesn't meet the expectations of a homeowner. I encountered this scenario several times each year and am called to right what has become a sour situation. I've also encountered homeowners who are overwhelmed and confused by the enormity &/or complexity of taking on the management of their projects and find it difficult to sort through all the factors of choosing contractors.

I'd like to offer my two cents about choosing a contractor here. My hope is that you who are planning a remodeling project of some sort, whether it will be mostly DIY or mostly hired out, will stumble across this resource BEFORE you drive the first nail so that you can hire contractors with confidence. After you've scrolled through this, I'll present these factors as they apply to BCDI so you can decide if BCDI might be suitable for your project. Feel free to print the PDF version of what to consider so that you can have it on hand when you meet with prospective bidding contractors. Ask all these questions -- you deserve to know.

What should you consider?

There are several factors to consider when choosing a contractor. Knowing these before you invite contractors out to bid on your project will both help you ask all the right questions during the meeting, but also to get a sense of the contractor. Consider these areas:


Relationship

The relationship I'm addressing here is the working relationship or rapport with the contractor. This includes communication, professionalism, thoroughness, respectfulness and consideration, among others.

  • Is the contractor returning your phone calls/emails in a timely manner?
  • Is the contractor professional and respectful?
  • Does the contractor communicate well during your meeting?
  • Does the contractor listen to you? (this is very important)
  • Does the contractor clearly and thoroughly explain the work he or she be doing?
  • Does the contractor identify any potential problems or offer alternate solutions?
  • Does the contractor anticipate future finishes and work to accomodate them?
  • Does the contractor communicate the project timeline of the work, including length of work and scheduling?
  • Was the contractor punctual?

Execution

How is the contractor going to execute once you've agreed to hire him to do the job? This encompasses performance, quality, and site-management as well as other factors. Ask about this up front so there will be no surprises when you get started.

  • Does the contractor have the proper insurance/licensing/bonding/certification necessary to do the work?
  • Will the contractor use the proper material/the best materials available?
  • Will the contractor observe proper installation/application techniques and best practices?
  • What dust control measures will the contractor employ?
  • Will your project be cleaned up daily?
  • Does the contractor have a waste management/disposal plan?
  • What kind of warranty/guarantee does the contractor offer?
  • Who will be doing the work and do you feel comfortable with them & are able to communicate with them?
  • How does the contractor deal with changes or hidden/unanticipated conditions?
  • What safety measures will the contractor be following to protect your family, pets, home, belongings, as well as those doing the work?
  • Does the contractor offer any special services above the competition? In other words, is there a good reason to choose this contractor over any other?
  • Is the contractor willing & able to do any potential prep work that may be needed for the project? This could include demolition, light framing, insulation, light electrical, etc. If yes, does the contractor have qualified staff on hand to properly perform those items? And, if not, what other contractors will need to be hired? What are those costs? Does the contractor have any recommendations of other related trades?
    Scheduling:
  • How long will the work take?
  • When will the contractor be able to start the project?
  • If the contractor cannot start the work as quickly as you are ready, are you willing to wait?
  • Will the contractor work consecutive days?
  • What hours/days will the contractor be working?
  • How do the contractor's timeline and scheduling affect the rest of your project?
  • How is the contractor's flexibility to work around your availability?

Pricing

The estimated pricing that a contractor provides is an important factor to consider. Pricing, however, cannot always be the primary determining factor. The expression "you get what you pay for" is not necessarily a blanket statement when it comes to contracting, but it certainly can harbor some truth. You must weigh the bottom line against the other factors you're considering to determine its import.

  • How does the pricing compare to other quotes?
  • Is the pricing based upon the same scope of work as other quotes? (Are the same services, approaches, techniques, etc. being quoted? Are you comparing apples to apples?)
  • Are there any hidden fees?
  • How does the contractor deal with changes or hidden conditions?
  • If necessary, are there items that you could provide or work that you could do to save money?
  • What payment methods does the contractor accept?
  • What are the payment terms?
  • How much do you give pricing compared to all the other considerations you have?
  • How does the price fit into your overall budget?
  • Are there any "value engineering" solutions (ways to cut cost) that the contractor can provide?

Intuition

Lastly, your intuition or gut feeling about the contractor you might hire cannot be overlooked. In fact, it might be the most important thing to consider. The contractor you hire will be working in your home or on your project and will likely be around you, your family, your pets, and your belongings.

  • Do you feel comfortable with the contractor?
  • If the contractor that you meet with will not be doing the work, do you feel comfortable with that?
  • Does the contractor seem honest and forthcoming?
  • Does the contractor treat you, your family, and your home with respect?
  • What feedback from outside sources have you received about this contractor?

Is BCDI right for your project?

BCDI is a small, family-owned company. This means many things, some of which might be benefical for you and your project, some of which might not be appropriate for your project. Let's address the areas of conseration above and provide some PROS and CONS.

Relationship

BCDI highly values relationship. We want any experience you have with us to equal or surpass any that you've had from other contractors. This starts from the first phone call or email we receive, through the estimate meeting, and beyond. We spare no expense to thoroughly communicate with you every aspect of the entire process. We want you to gain knowledge and understanding of all aspects of your project regardless of whether not you eventually hire us. Most importanly, we listen. We listen to your descriptions of your project, your visions, your questions and concerns, and anything else you have to offer. If you aren't heard, it's unlikely that you'll get the experience you expect and hope for.

Execution

During project execution, BCDI places utmost importance on quality, clean, professional service and craftsmanship. That means that we're only going to use the best products for each application. Our installations or applications are going to meet or exceed (mostly exceed) written industry standards and manufacturers recommendations. Paying attention to detail and going the extra mile not only ensures you a quality job that will last but it saves us disappointment, headache, time and money brought on by poor craftsmanship. My name (Brandon) is in the company name, so I have a vested interest in doing a quality job. Aside from that, when I and my staff lay our heads upon our pillows at night, regardless of the night, we can rest assured that we have done everything to do our very best. It's a win-win situation.

No job that we work on is a jobsite. Period. Every project is either your home or your business. This means that working cleanly and respectfully in your home or business is top priority. We always protect your room contents, flooring, and other finishes. We always use dust-containment measures to impact your home life or business operations as minimally as possible, and we're constantly improving our techniques to do so. We clean up at the end of each and every work day. You will never hear reviews like "it took us weeks to get the dust cleaned up" or "they really made a mess" following any project we've been on.

As for scheduling, this is one of the areas that BCDI cannot always be the best. We are a small company without large crews. This means that we cannot provide next-day service, as we typically schedule new projects 2-4 weeks out from the time of initial contact. Also, since we don't have large crews, larger projects may take a little bit longer than some of the competition who have lots of manpower on staff, and these larger projects can tend to tie up our schedule.

Why don't we have a large staff? Simple -- quality control.

We've worked in, alongside and competed against companies with larger staffs or a deep pool of subs, but find with uncanny predictiveness that the larger the company, the harder the quality control is contained. We want EVERY staff member of BCDI to provide you the best possible experience all around. This is achieved through extensive training, but moreover providing a deep-rooted vested interest for the staff member to follow through. Often, Brandon (the owner) will be the only one you see from start to finish on your project. If this is the case, rest assured that you are getting BCDI's core principles applied in their entirety on your project.
BCDI manages waste and project debris in the most ecologic way that we currently know is possible. All new drywall scrap is recycled. All paper, cardboard, metal, and plastic that can possibly be recycled is sorted and recycled. Any material that cannot be recycled will be disposed of in a safe manner. Any debris that could potentially be harboring lead paint or other lead finishes will be disposed of in accordance with the EPA's Lead Safe Practices. Find out more about recycling and all of BCDI's green practices.

Pricing

BCDI only provides fair-market pricing for your project. We do not chase the lowest bidders, nor do we participate in anything akin to price-gouging. We price in a way that assures that we're able to properly perform the work with the highest quality and most professional, clean execution. Nothing more - nothing less. If we provide you a price that you find is higher than the competition, we will be happy to do everything we can to work with you to agree on a bottom line that both fits your budget and allows us to do the work correctly.

Intuition

I don't think I'll be able to give you much here, as this is your domain to conquer. We want to communicate clearly with you; provide a quality product and superior experience; provide a helpful service to you in any way that we can; and raise the bar for other contractors in the area. We're friendly, respectful, professional, reliable, honest, and caring. If you find that you care about those qualities in a contracting experience and we have chemistry, we'd love to work for you.

PROS CONS
  • Our focus is always quality over quantity
  • The company owner is present on all projects
  • We have a vested interested in providing the highest quality product and service every time
  • We always pay attention to detail
  • Our communication about your project is paramount
  • Your project is always the most important project we're working on
  • We work closely with other skilled, quality-minded tradesmen who may be able to help with other aspects of your project
  • Cleanliness, professionalism, and high quality from start to finish are always paramount
  • Our goal is to raise your expectation of what your experince with a contractor should be
  • We do not focus on quantity at the expense of quality/service
  • We do not have large crews to tackle large projects
  • We cannot always provide immediate, on-demand service
  • We will not rush projects to target scheduling or completion dates while sacrificing quality
  • We focus on drywall/plaster only and do not currently branch out into other trades
  • We do not surprise you with hidden fees at the end of your project
  • We will never cut corners or produce a sub-standard product for any reason