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Selecting a Contractor

Hiring a builder who has proper experience is important for ensuring the success and quality of a construction project.

Experience is Key

Builders with experience are more likely to have developed strong relationships with suppliers, subcontractors, and other professionals in the industry, which can result in better pricing, scheduling, and quality of work. They are also more likely to have a strong understanding of construction techniques and materials and the ability to identify potential issues and delays before they occur, which can help to avoid costly mistakes and delays during the building process.

Vetting your Contractor

Having a license to perform as a general contractor does not necessarily mean that the individual has a formal education in construction and does not guarantee their competence or ability to complete a construction project to your satisfaction. That's why it's crucial to vet your contractor to ensure that they have the skills, knowledge, and experience necessary to successfully complete your project.

Here are some tips on how to vet your contractor:

  1. Ask for references, including previous clients and suppliers. Contact these references to get their perspective on the contractor's work, reliability, and communication skills.

  2. Check their credentials, ensuring they are licensed, insured, and bonded (if you're in Washington state, you can verify this information here).

  3. Look at their portfolio of their previous work. This will give you a good idea of the quality of their work and their attention to detail.

  4. Ask about their experience especially with projects similar to yours.

  5. Make sure that they have adequate insurance coverage, including liability insurance and workers' compensation insurance. This will protect you in case of any accidents or damage during the construction process.

  6. Ask for a detailed contract that outlines the scope of work, timeline, and the payment schedule. Review the contract carefully and make sure that you understand the terms and conditions before signing.

"You Don't Need a Permit"

While we cover this in detail in another post ("Your Project Starts with an Architect"), it's worth reiterating again. A contractor or other less experienced designer may try to bypass the requirement for a permit for several reasons, such as wanting to save time and money, or to avoid the extra scrutiny and regulations that come with obtaining a permit. However, this is unethical and illegal, as it puts the safety and stability of the building at risk. If a contractor tells you that you don't need a permit or offers to start building without a permit, make sure you contact your local building department to verify the accuracy of this statement.

In the city of Seattle, a typical rule of thumb is that any work to a home amounting in over $6,000 in costs requires a permit. It may sound crazy to some that a simple bathroom remodel or replacement of windows demands a permit, but it most likely does.

It is important to note that skipping the permit process and not involving an architect can have serious consequences, such as fines, legal action, and even the need to tear down the construction if it is found to be non-compliant. We have, unfortunately, seen this happen far too many times. We often get calls from homeowners who have recently received a "Stop Work Order" or "Notice of Violation" on their property. These violations come from the local jurisdiction and threaten/enforce fines of $500/day for un-permitted construction.

Contractor Alliance

We have made relationships with many contractors in the Seattle area and are happy to connect you with one that is the best fit for your project scope. Our strongest partnership is with Denizen Construction, who we highly recommend for your extensive remodel, new build, or multi-family needs.


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