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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,

I have a house expansion project that involves adding 2 rooms and converting an existing garage to another room. Also it'll demolish a bedroom and make it a new entrance. So the project is not small and I would like to evaluate a few general contractors. This is in Santa Clara, CA. So other than providing them with blueprint and ask for price. What other questions should I ask? One that I can think of is the estimated project length. Is it common to put a deadline in the contract? Any response would be appreciated.

PS: I went to contractortalk.com and I was not allowed to register since I'm not a contractor. Thought people here may have a good idea.

-Wayne
 

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I would suggest that you contact a number of contractors and ask for relevant people that they have worked for.

Then set appointments to discuss the project and ask for bids.

Around here we are expected to pay for quotes, there is any amount of time involved in the bidding.

The person to hire is the one you get along with the best. Yopu willbe spending considerable time with them.

yes it is reasonable to place a completion date in the contract, i fact in NYs it is required.
 

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Need to know if they have proper insurances, licensed contractor, who is getting the permits u or contractor if its u u r responsible( dont do it) references as far as deadlines thing do come up so if u r going to penalize for late r willing to compensate for getting done sooner. Find out if contractor is responsible for sub contractors
 

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Get a list of references and make sure it includes their suppliers and sub contractors. They know contractors the best and what quality they buy, and pay on time. Building inspectors aren't supposed to recomend anyone but might tell you who they have had a problem with. You can specify a time but be sure to include what is and isn't a reason for overage. Make sure every change is documented, priced before signing, and if it affects completion time. I usually advise to ask if they give a right of rescission, (3 days to cancel), before beginning, and a release of liens usually before final payment.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the quick reply, guys. I forgot to mention that I am getting the permit and it's being approved. I was told that I should check the GC's current/previous work if possible. But I'm not an expert inspecting construction. So is it a good idea to hire an inspector? or some kind of professional. But some say inspectors mainly check for code violation and not necessarily for work quality. I also heard it's not uncommon for some (sub-)contractor to have multiple projects at a time. Do I expect such case and ask them to estimate some "idle-time" for my project? Thanks.
 

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Construction projects can be stressful so hiring a qualified builders is important. A lot of excellent information has been provided by the posters above. I'd recommend the following in addition in your search:

-this link will provide you with recommended questions to ask perspective builders http://www.nahb.org/generic.aspx?genericContentID=125965&fromGSA=1

-this link will provide you with consumer information from the National Association of Home Builders http://www.nahb.org/page.aspx/category/sectionID=112

I recommend asking for at least 5 references (previous projects) from each builder then contact them, ask about their relationship with the builder, did they do what they said they would do, did they show up as scheduled, was the project completed as estimated or where there additional costs, if so why?, where they happy with the workmanship? where there any problems during the project and if so how did the builder handle them? and most importantly "would they hire the builder again for their next project?" You may want to ask if you can see the workmanship first hand.

completion dates can be tricky due to uncontrollable factors such as weather, labor strikes, issues with damaged materials received that have to be sent back, especially special order items, but they should provide you a completion date in the contract. You may want a clause where if the builder completes before his estimate he gets a bonus (who doesn't like a little extra money), if not then he pays a penalty for each day late (especially if you are having to rent another place during construction). Remember you are a team not opponents.

Don't let price be your deciding factor. Most builders pay the same money for materials unless they have a huge warehouse and can buy by the train load. If a builder's estimate is a lot less than the others you have to ask yourself, "How can they do that, make a profit and still be in business?" I've had too many clients hire the cheapest quote and end up with horror stories. There is an old saying "You get what you pay for." read my signature below for the rest of the story ....

You don't have to be an expert or need your own inspector typically as your local building department should provide inspections of the work. Typically they only concern themselves with code compliance and not workmanship issues. If something does not look right to you ask questions of your builder. they should be willing to answer your questions and explain things so that you can understand. if you're not sure, contact your building department.

Hope this helps! I'm sure you'll get more useful information from others.

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for the tips and resources, Gary. And thanks also to all who replied. I totally agree "Remember you are a team not opponents." Definitely we'll check for references. Some contractors allow us to visit their current job, or even finished work. Since I'm no expert in craftsmanship, who should I bring? Of course I can google some things-to-check but I wonder if hiring someone is a good idea.

Kelly, my architect has finished all the required work for permit application, this includes floor plan, roof plan, structural engineering, etc. But I don't think the materials are listed. I'll check with my architect on this.
 
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