Quite a few people have asked me about contractors and how to get a good one. Here a some tips I’ve compiled which hopefully will provide you with a bit of a heads up looking for a contractor and handling him afterwards.
1. I am not a licensed contractor. License? What license? Who’s a licensed contractor anyway? So really, how do you know if you’ve gotten a good contractor? Your best bet is to get recommendations from friends or colleagues who themselves have used the contractor and are personally happy with his work. I’d recommend that you visit your friend’s or colleague’s place to get a feel of the quality of the workmanship of the contractor. If all’s to your liking, arrange a meet up with the contractor for a quick chat to size him up.
2. Please sign on the dotted line. Contract? What contract? You don’t sign legally binding contracts with your contractor. No local contractor would ever agree to that. This is why it’s important to engage contractors with a good historical record and is highly recommended by those you know.
3. My prices are already the best in town. Never believe your contractor if he says that. There are only several factors in which they can really cut down on the price quotation – number of resources/workers, quality of materials used, how pushy the customer is in asking for a discount. You are in control of the third factor! And to some extent, the second factor. Make sure you push for discounts – never settle on the initial quote.
4. I work as hard even when you’re not looking. Most of the time, the contractor isn’t around to supervise works at your place. He usually tells the workers what needs to be done and they get their hands dirty doing it. Occasionally, there are miscommunications or even the occasionaly (frequent) ‘curi tulang’ (cutting corners) tactics used by the workers to minimise their efforts in completing a job, which could end up compromising the final delivery or output. If it’s possible, take some leave to supervise them or have sporadic spot checks on them during the work day to make sure they don’t cut corners. Remember, it’s you who has to live with their mistakes, every day.
5. I accept installment paybacks. I’d be somewhat wary if a contractor accepts installment paybacks. Most contractors which are reputable or have a good constant flow of business don’t usually offer this option. Why would they when they can get cash up front instead of forking out the money to buy raw materials, pay the workers and wait half a year to a year before you pay them back completely? Unless, they’re desperate for your business or they’re just not very good at their day job. Having said that, there are always exceptions to the rule.
6. I respect timelines- my timelines. Get fussy and pushy… else, expect delays and rework. Don’t feel bad about pushing your contractor or his workers. Make sure they get their jobs done or push them to work extra time. If you keep a close eye on them, you will minimise any need for rework.