Finding the Contractor that is Right for You

 In Training

The Search

• Know what the needs, wants and priorities are of your project.
• Consider how you want to do business (time & materials; cost-plus; traditional design-build-bid; or design/build).
• Know your budget.
• Ask trusted sources for recommendations.
• Research reviews and the contractor’s website. Note what association or affiliations they maintain in the industry.

The Phone Call

• Describe your project.
• Learn how they do business.
• Understand which Project Delivery System they use:
• Time & Materials or Cost Plus (a percentage)
• Traditional Design-Bid-Build
• Design/Build (collaborative approach)
• Ask the contractor:
• What is the make-up and experience of the crew and how long have they worked together?
• Request a copy of their certificate of insurance and license, where applicable.
• What are they doing by way of continued education in building science, materials and business courses?
• Ask for referrals. Ask their past clients:
• How did the process go for them?
• Were they happy with the outcome?
• Did the contractor’s workers respect your personal requests?
• What were the subcontractors like?
• How did the contractor resolve conflicts?
• Set up a meeting and ensure that there will be an agenda. Topics can include:
• Meeting time, expected duration, and how interruptions will be handled
• Project description and key items for discussion
• Time frame needed for the project and/or time constraints
• Discussion on the financial investment for the project

The First Date

• Discuss what will happen at the meeting based on the agenda.
• Take a tour of the home areas to be affected.
• Discuss how the process will work. For example:
• Do you need design and drawings? Does the contractor provide same?
• How do they conduct business during both the design and build phases?
• Do they have weekly meetings?
• Do they have a plan to minimize overruns?
• What are their standard operating procedures for protecting elements of the home not being worked on (i.e. dust control, floor protection, new product protection etc.)?
• How have they handled problems when they’ve come up? (ask for a past example)
• Saying no/saying yes: when you have chosen your contractor, decide what the next step will be.
• Jot down notes from the meeting and distribute to parties involved.

Useful Websites

Materially Better

The Six Classes Approach to Reducing Chemical Harm:

Prop 65 from California:

International Living Future Institute:

Air Renew Drywall by CertainTeed:

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC):

Green Building Alliance. Product and Building Materials Red List:

Product and Building Materials Red List

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