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The following was written by guest blogger Jack Cookson of BuildZoom.
One of the most important parts of picking a contractor or architect for your real estate project is the site visit. (Throughout this article we use the word contractor, but almost all of the below applies to meeting an architect as well.) The site visit serves many functions, such as:
Despite being a crucial step in the hiring process, the site visit is often overlooked or not fully utilized. Here are some tips on how to make the most out of these visits, so you can avoid pitfalls down the line and set yourself up to make the most informed decision.
While contractor site visits can vary, they generally take between thirty minutes to an hour. To make the most out of these visits, we recommend scheduling them back-to-back or in as close succession as possible — a shorter time frame helps you compare and evaluate the contractors more accurately. Keep in mind it can be awkward to have two contractors run into each other. If you do schedule interviews back-to-back, leave a little buffer; 30 minutes should be enough.
There is nothing worse than being stood up. To stop this from happening, make sure to confirm the meeting. We’ve found that a text message confirmation 24 hours ahead of time is the best way to do this.
These visits are often short, so preparing ahead can go a long way.
Are they a good contractor in general? Do they do good work generally? Do they have experience and are they experienced? Do they seem to know what they are talking about?
Are they a good fit for this specific project? Have they done similar projects in the past? Do they know how to execute this type of work? What about in your neighborhood and under your planning and building code?
Are they organized, responsive, and professional? A successful construction project involves a lot more than just the ability to build. These things matter!
Are they a good personality fit for you? You are going to work closely with this person for a while. Assume problems and unforeseen issues will arise. Would you feel comfortable having this person be the one who walks you through those issues? Make sure you like them, trust them, and that they also feel comfortable enough to disagree with you or push back a little at times.
As with any good interview, you should prepare questions ahead of time and assess candidates on similar criteria. We’ve found that asking the same questions to each contractor is the best way to compare.
(Let’s face it, your project will likely change a little as you go. Before you start, you should understand how your contractor handles and bills change orders. You don’t want to be surprised by project changes that the contractor is forced to make. You also want to understand how any changes you want to make will be implemented.)
The visit is a two-way interview. Like you, the contractor is evaluating whether your project is a good fit for their business. You definitely want to dive in to understand a lot about them, but also remember to show that you will be a great client to work with. Be presentable, reliable, and professional. A contractor is looking for:
While some of this might seem like a lot, preparing well for the site walkthrough will make a difference. Hopefully, at this point, you are prepared to have a productive site visit and gain more information about your contractor before you hire.
Building or remodeling a home can be a chaotic and stressful undertaking. BuildZoom’s premium service for residential projects will empower you to reduce risks, make informed decisions, and savemoney.
Jack Cookson is in charge of growth at BuildZoom. A San Francisco native, Jack is an urbanist who loves people, mobility, and geography. He believes in data as information that is made elegant through visualization. In his spare time, you can find Jack surfing, skiing, rock climbing, or at a concert.
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