• Duane C. Barney

Selecting a contractor Part 3

Before you hire anyone, you go through an interview process the same is true for hiring a general contractor.

1. Select viable candidates

2. Conduct an interview

3. Weigh the pros and cons and make the best hire possible.


Part Three- Evaluate and decide


If all went well, you may be ready to decide right now about who you want to work with; but wait! I don’t have a price for the work yet. That can be handled in the form of contract you agree upon. However, if you are not comfortable deciding just yet or just can’t decide. Narrow your selection down to three and have them price it out for you. Three is kind of a minimum since two will give you nothing to really evaluate. Seven just says to the world it is all about price, I do not care what kind of service you provide. Pricing out a job on the 60% chance you will not get the job is an expensive undertaking both in time and actual dollars. Depending on the size of the project the estimate could run into the thousands to prepare and loose. So, be fair in getting the information you need to decide and don’t have anyone price it if you are certain you will not hire them.

Evaluating the bids is not a simple task as everyone has their own format and style. Your architect should provide a bid form the break down the cost, so each line is spelled out, but this is still no guarantee evaluation is going to be simple.


The goal is to attempt to make sure they have all included the same scope of work and priced it accurately. Two examples: First is the boiler work in the pluming price or HVAC? If two bidders have the relatively same number for drywall and one guy is 30% low on that line and making him the low bidder, did he get a better drywall price or did he mis-count the quantity needed. Moving a decimal point over while typing can change everything, and why are you hiring this GC? For his typing skills? As you review the numbers with your architect, do not hesitate to call a GC with questions, this is not a government bid, there are no legal boundaries. You are looking for the fairest information you can get to decide, so make an informed one. If the drawings and specifications are good and the GC’s did not make any silly mistakes the bids should all come in quite close to each other. They know their business and their vendors know theirs so there is no magic wand that will make the project cost 30% less. It may cause the GC to fail financially and not finish the project. A prospect you do not want either.

Evaluating the bids is not a simple task as everyone has their own format and style. Your architect should provide a bid form the break down the cost, so each line is spelled out, but this is still no guarantee evaluation is going to be simple. The goal is to attempt to make sure they have all included the same scope of work and priced it accurately. Two examples: First is the boiler work in the pluming price or HVAC? If two bidders have the relatively same number for drywall and one guy is 30% low on that line and making him the low bidder, did he get a better drywall price or did he miss-count the quantity needed. Moving a decimal point over while typing can change everything, and why are you hiring this GC? For his typing skills? As you review the numbers with your architect, do not hesitate to call a GC with questions, this is not a government bid, there are no legal boundaries. You are looking for the fairest information you can get to decide, so make an informed one. If the drawings and specifications are good and the GC’s did not make any silly mistakes the bids should all come in quite close to each other. The know their business and their vendors know theirs so there is no magic wand that will make the project cost 30% less. It may cause the GC to fail financially and not finish the project. A prospect you do not want either.


Look it all over carefully, fairly and honestly; review the interview process and decide along with your architect. Once you have decided, let the other bidders know, they just spent thousands trying to win your business and may be making decisions based on the prospect it will come through. If the call is too uncomfortable then send an email and if possible a reason so they can evaluate their process and fine tune if needed. If not, then just let it go as “it was a difficult decision, but we have decided to go with someone else”. It is not a fun letter or call to receive but every GC has missed out on work.


Time to go to contract.


Questions about how to start your project? We recommend this book as an essential first step.

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