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Choosing the right construction contractor

When you're embarking on a building project, appointing the right contractor will be the biggest decision that you make. 

You'll need to find someone who you can trust and feel comfortable working with. You may have to pay more to hire the right contractor as the savings that can be made from hiring the lowest bidder can evaporate as the job progresses. It's always wise to assume that they'll be problems along the way, so it's important to select the contractor who you feel will work cooperatively with you to find the best solutions.

The main responsibilities of the general contractor are as follows:

  • Estimating and bidding the project
  • Negotiating a contract with the owner
  • Hiring and negotiating contracts with subcontractors
  • Obtaining the necessary permits and scheduling inspections
  • Establishing a payment schedule based on work progress
  • Disbursing money to sub contractors and material suppliers
  • Creating a schedule for workers, sub contractors and deliveries
  • Negotiating material prices and ordering materials
  • Interpreting the plans and specifications
  • Supervising and coordinating the work of employees and sub contractors 
  • Troubleshooting job-site problems

If you're working with an architect, they'll often provide names of contractors who they have worked with before. That’s a good place to start, but whether you are starting from scratch or with a list of names, the process is pretty much the same. The bigger the project, the more effort you should put in to finding the right contractor. One strategy could be to hire them carry out a smaller job and evaluate their performance.

The next step could be to talk to people you know who have undertaken construction projects and maybe research similar projects to your own.

Questions to ask

  • Have you worked with this contractor before?
  • How did the job go? How did it compare with other contractors you have worked with?
  • Did the contractor communicate clearly throughout the project?
  • Was the contractor on the job frequently? If not, who supervised the work on site?
  • Were there any problems or surprises?
  • How was the quality of the work? 
  • Were there cost overruns or delays, and why?
  • Would you recommend them for your project? 

Once you've compiled a list contractors to approach, you should then consider asking them the following questions:

  • When were you established?
  • How many projects like yours have they completed?
  • What type of work do you specialise in?
  • What work will your own employees perform as opposed to subcontractors?
  • Who will supervise the work on site?
  • Who will my main point of contact be once the works begin?
  • How do you prefer to work? Competitive bid, cost-plus, negotiated price, or something else?
  • What is your company’s greatest strength?
  • Do you have your own Health & Safety and Human Resources team?
  • Can I see a copy of your Health & Safety policy?
  • How many RIDDOR incidents have you had in the last 5 years?
  • What levels of insurance do you carry? Can I see a copy of your insurance schedule?

Accreditations & Membership

Ask the contractor if they have any of the following accreditions or membership of:

Artemis Insurance Brokers' experienced construction team can advise contractors on Employers' and Public Liability Insurance and make sure that you have the correct limits in place for the valuable contracts you have won. We offer high quality insurance policies to protect you when a contract is in place and can insure any plant you own, or hire-in plant anywhere in the country. 

RICHARD J. CLIFFE - Sales & Marketing Manager

   020 8619 5000

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Artemis Insurance Brokers Ltd

Provident House, 13 Russell Hill Road, Purley, Surrey, CR8 2LE, England

Tel: 020 8619 5000 |

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Artemis Insurance Brokers Ltd  are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. FCA No: 524324. Registered in England & Wales 7340228. Registered office Provident House, 13 Russell Hill Road, Purley, Surrey, CR8 2LE

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