Who's going to build it?

In our last article we considered procurement; how to ask a contractor for a price and ensure we are confident with it. Now we consider which Contractors to ask.

It is not uncommon to already have a contractor in mind, a relative, a friend, someone known and trusted, someone who has worked with you in the past, or perhaps someone who has been recommended to you.

You also have the option of looking at advertisements; your local newspaper, the internet, or maybe it could be that van that you just keep passing in the car?

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Whether you are going to oversee the construction on your own, or indeed work with your design team through to completion, the decision of who to choose as your contractor is one that should not be rushed.

In our experience, it is essential to choose a contractor who has knowledge and skills relevant to your project. Seek recommendations whether they are via a friend, a neighbour or perhaps even the members of your design team.

Before working with someone ‘unknown’ then references are a must, both from previous Clients and perhaps other professional or contractors that may have worked with them. If you are still uncertain, then do not hesitate to ask to look at not only photographs of previous projects, but also visit a site to look at the quality of their work.

If you don’t already know them, ask to meet the Contractor. You will be working with them for the next few months, so you need to be sure that you will get on with them.

It is advisable to check on the contractors to ensure that they can cope with the project financially; you do not want to be half way through to find out that they won’t be in next Monday because they are running into financial difficulties.

There are many advantages to Contractors being based fairly locally to the site. They will have less travelling to do, which may reduce their price. They also have an extra incentive to do a good job, as their local reputation will be important to them. Once the works are complete, they will be close at hand if there are any teething problems.

For larger projects, the EU Procurement Regulations require that projects funded by ‘public money’ over certain thresholds are to be advertised. Once placed, all respondents are sent a Pre Qualification Questionnaire – the answers to which objectively determine their suitability. The most suitable candidates are then invited to tender. This is a more formal method of making the same judgements. Whilst it gives an objective result, it does not take into account such important matters as how considerate the Contractor is, how much they pride themselves in their work, or how well they communicate.

Advising on potential Contractors and appraising their suitability for your project is part of our service.