Before the first hammer hits the wall in a demolition or the backhoe breaks ground on a home addition, a foundation must be laid – a foundation of people and plans. The strongest foundation you’ll need in a home remodeling project is the builder. He will be the backbone of the job, managing not only the other contractors but also managing your money for the project. How do you know he’s stable? How do you know he’ll show up after the first down-payment? How do you know he’ll stand behind his work for years to come?
A strong, reputable builder will have a record of his strength. It will be in the form of letters, references and outstanding work that he can show you. Even though it may feel ridiculous, don’t be afraid to ask for written documentation about the builder’s financial status or his credit rating. Find out about his relationships within the industry – they can tell you a lot about how he’ll work with you.
Builders should be willing and able to share letters from vendors showing they are customers in good standing – that is, they pay their bills on time and they work as a team with their vendors. If, for example, you choose a builder who has not paid his bills for lumber for the last 90 days, your home remodeling job is at risk – the order for your lumber may be held until he pays his past due bills, or worse, he might be refused delivery completely. Or, if your builder is notoriously difficult with vendors – whether it’s attitude or organization – it’s a reflection of how he will work with you. Be sure he has a good reputation in the building community.
A builder should also be able to show you a bank letter that confirms he’s financially sound. The letter will include the bank’s rating of the business in terms of financial stability. Make sure the builder has a certificate of insurance for no less than $1 million, and a license to do business in your state. Finally, he should be forthcoming with all of this information. After all, the structure is only as strong as the foundation.