Frequently Asked Questions About Building Construction

How much money should I pay my contractor in advance?

• It depends on whether you are talking labor or materials. If you are dealing with a weak contractor, you may be asked to pay for the materials in advance…This is risky, however, you may want to take this risk to get a lower overall price. Make the check payable to both the contractor and the supplier. And get a lien release which is discussed further in this article.

• Regarding the labor part of the contract, I see no reason to pay the contractor for his labor in advance of the work being done…Do you get paid in advance?

How do I find a contractor?

• Word of mouth, internet, yellow pages, advertisements in your local newspaper, and you might try asking your local hardware store if they could recommend someone.

How do I know if the contractor is trustworthy?

• You must keep in mind there will always be some risk no matter who you choose.

I have sustained some storm damage to my house when a tree fell on it. The insurance appraiser is telling me that their cost of repairs is less than the contractor will charge me to repair the house. What can I do?

• Get more bids on the cost of repairs.

• Negotiate with your insurance company, and if no resolution;

• Get a construction consultant’s opinion.

• Get a Lawyer.

What does cost per square foot mean?

• It all depends on how the term is used. If you are discussing land it is the total cost divided by the square footage. A 10,000 square foot lot that cost $50,000.00 would have a cost per square foot of $5.00

• If you are trying to get the cost per square foot of a house you would divide the square footage of the house into the price of the house. A house with 2,000 square feet that is worth $100,000.00 would have a cost per square foot of $50.00.

What is a change order?

• A change order is a deviation from the original plans and specifications at the request of the owner or due to some unforeseen need to alter the construction from the original plan.

How should I handle change orders during construction?

• Very carefully… Some contractors thrive on getting as many change orders out of you as they can. This is viewed as extra money in their pocket. You should only approve of a change order if you are convinced that the contract did not include this work, such as a change you requested after the contract has been signed. Even when you want the change, you must insist upon the cost being broken down into labor and materials. If the price is too high, negotiate or do without. Do not be very accommodating with change orders. Turn down all change orders you do not agree with. You do not want to declare open season on your pocketbook.

What is a lien release?

• This is a statement of costs from the builder or supplier which have been paid. All lien releases should be notarized.

• Do make sure you get a notarized lien release from the material supplier. You also want to get a notarized partial lien release when you are making partial progress payments to your contractor. You will also need a final lien release from your contractor when the work is finished and the last payment is to be made. You want to exchange the final lien release for the final check, Not the check first.

What are forms?

• Forms are used to create a shape of some building material such as concrete.

• They are used for footings, slabs, driveways and many other uses. They can be made from various materials such as, wood, metal, cardboard and even the earth becomes a form for the footings of a building.

What are reinforcing rods?

• These are hardened pieces of steel, often called rebar, which are used to strengthen the concrete when placed in the form at designated locations prior to pouring the concrete/

What is meant by the term, ‘dried-in.”

• This is the stage of construction when a building can be worked in without the workmen getting wet. Generally the exterior walls have been erected, and the roof is in place.

When would I be considered a General Contractor?

• When you engage the subcontractors to work on your building and over see the scheduling and completion of the work.

• Most states will allow the owner of the proposed structure to act as their own General Contractor. You need to be check with your local building authority, prior to acting as your own General Contractor.