Nov 13, 2012
Choosing a contractor is never black and white - and seldom easy. People often want to simplify it to a question of cost. Cost cannot be overlooked of course, but paper plans and city inspections can never fully guarantee that the project will be completed to the expected level of quality a client expects. Projects are born from heavy materials and depend on the skilled technique of those applying them.
It seems simple enough to assume that quality is on the mind of your contractor, and at some level I am sure it is. All projects start out with a lot of smiles and hopes and handshakes. But life's pressures and unexpected delays often force a contractor to seek the fastest means of getting to the next stage of completion even if thoroughness has to be overlooked and code minimums are made the only hurdle. With several projects going on at once, many contractors doing a bunch of jobs can get caught in "back and forth" type reduced productivity.
Further, contract budget constraints, designed to protect the client from cost overruns, can force a low bidding contractor who feels pressure to look for ways to "cut time or costs". There are always new ways to try, and often they lead to project failure down the road.
From my experience this type of situation is all too common for an underbidder. Unfortunately, most areas only hold a contractor liable for one year without an extended written warranty.
Price is not a good way to select a contractor, but if the price is good (often it is -ulp- double what you may have initially expected) then recommendations are the next step. All good contractors have someone who can recommend them based on past experience.