Building a house might be an amazing challenge, but it is not for everyone. Through the long and intense design and construction process, building a house can be extremely time consuming, requiring a lot of attention to detail and thousands of decisions along the way.
For years, folks who are planning to build new homes have asked me for contractor recommendations. I am happy to help, but always hesitant to give direct referrals. Here’s why:
1. I know and work with many excellent contractors, and I don’t want to single any out in particular.
2. Nearly all the contractors I know have encountered some kind of sticky situation with a customer that didn’t end well for either the customer or the contractor. Frankly, I don’t want to be involved.
3. Through research and personal experience, I have developed very high energy and environmental standards of home construction. Many contractors don’t meet all of these high standards, so it is difficult to put my eggs in one basket.
I always liken hiring a contractor to being in a marriage. You spend a lot of time together making decisions- often under stressful conditions. You need to be compatible with one another and committed to working things through, even when there is a disagreement or miscommunication.
My stock advice is: Get some referrals and interview potential contractors at length. Take time to talk with their customer references, and please go see some of their work! Make sure their work is up to your standards. This is, after all, your new home and a very significant and personal investment. With any luck, the contractor you find will be someone you trust, with whom you feel comfortable working.
Personally, I believe contractors fall into two primary categories: Those that have problems and those that have solutions. You want the latter.
Building a home has innumerable challenges. Rarely does a project breeze along without a few snags to unravel. Contractors who are forever focused on problems only add to the anxiety and worry of the customer. Homebuilding is stressful enough! Contractors who concentrate on solutions and communicate well simply have fewer problems to overcome. Stress levels will be lower and the challenges will seem smaller.
Home building is certainly a challenge (I can’t say that enough!), so hire a contractor that won’t waste time and energy complaining about problems. Find one who will help minimize problems by focusing on solutions. After all, there’s no crying in construction.
Author: Steve Konstantino, Owner, Maine Green Building Supply