Specialist or just a general builder
For example, a good general builder is perfectly capable of converting an attic or building out a basement. You can, of course, go to a loft or basement company, and they, too, may do a great job. The most important thing is to find someone who will do good work for the right price. Similarly, you can use a staircase company to make a staircase or a door company to sell you doors — or just use a good woodworker to make such things.
Don’t approach a builder too soon
Builders are usually good at pricing once they know exactly what you are needing, but asking for a price before you have any drawings or details about the project is as good as inviting them to tell you simply what they think you want to hear. My advice is to approach builders once you have a set of drawings and a list of what will (and won’t) be included. Otherwise, you may base the project on a figure that could be miles off the eventual cost.
Let the builder manage the project
It’s the builder’s job to make sure that the right people in the right numbers are on-site at the right times and that they have the necessary materials to do their work. While an independent architect or project manager can step in to act as an expert and look after your interests, he or she cannot be expected to monitor progress and quality. It’s important that the builder has control over the project on a day-to-day basis.
We would generally send a project out to three or four home builders for pricing. This involves the home builder in a great deal of work, and it’s simply not fair, in my opinion, to go to more than six. However, when the prices come back, it’s not at all uncommon for them to vary between the highest and lowest by 100 percent or more, so it’s well worth going to at least three or four.
Make one comprehensive inspection list
While the main work is going full tilt, everyone tends to be happy, but toward the end of a project, there are typically numerous minor items to attend to, requiring a wide array of tradespeople, and this can be both difficult and expensive for the builder to organize.