Notes from Town Square: Tips for a successful project, part one
Seeing the piles of snow slowly melt away is a nice reminder that construction season is just around the corner. Last year was an unusually busy year for construction within the city, mostly in part to the freak hail storm that we were dealt in June. As a result of the damage caused by this storm, the Green River Community Development Department issued 1,163 building permits in 2016, which is more than three times the average annual permits issued of 340 per year. Based on communication with local developers and contractors, the city is anticipating another busy construction season.
Whether you are looking at having your roof replaced, building a new structure or addition, or remodeling your home, the Community Development Department would like to offer the following tips to ensure a successful construction project:
Tip 1: Plan ahead. Good planning is the foundation for all successful projects. You should have some idea of the project scope before contacting a contractor. Set a realistic budget that you can afford and stick to it. When determining your budget, include a contingency amount for any unforeseen items. If the repairs are caused by damage, contact your insurance agent to determine coverage limits.
When planning your project, separate your wants from your needs and prioritize accordingly. When you have a limited budget, you want to make sure that when the project is completed, all of your needs are addressed. When adding “extras” to the project, make sure that they are not taking away from the needs of the project.
Look ahead to determine any future needs or wants. If the budget allows, it is often times easier and more affordable to add items for future plans during the construction of an existing project. For example, if you have plans to add a hot tub in the future, if the wall is opened up anyway, you may find it cheaper to upgrade the electrical at this time.
Tip 2: If you choose to hire a contractor, do your research to find the best contractor for you and your project. The City of Green River defines a “Contractor” as anyone who “undertakes with or for another within the city to build, construct, alter, repair, add to, demolish, or move any building or structure or any portion thereof, for a fixed sum, price, fee, percentage, or other compensation or any combination thereof.” There are multiple websites available that provide sample questions to ask when interviewing contractors.
Here are a few questions to get you started:
Question 1: Are you and your sub-contractors licensed and insured? All contractors operating within the City of Green River are required to hold and maintain a Green River issued Contractor’s License (holding a Rock Springs Contractor’s License does not negate this requirement). Also ask the contractor who their sub-contractors will be for the project (i.e. electrician, plumber, etc.). Ask the contractor to provide copies of their contractor’s license (for them as well as the sub-contractors).
You can also contact the Green River Community Development Department at 307-872-6140 to find out the licensing status of any contractor. In addition to their Contractor’s License, ask to see their Certificate of Insurance. This will allow you to see how they are insured.
Question 2: Will you obtain the permits and set up the inspections for the project?
Almost all construction projects will require a permit. It is your contractor’s responsibility to know what kinds of permits will be required for your specific project. It is recommended that the contractor (not the homeowner) apply for and obtain the permit. When the contractor obtains the permit, the contractor is responsible for scheduling inspections and any corrections that may need to be made as a result of the inspection.
Question 3: How long have you been in business and do you have a list of client references?
Always check the references provided by the contractor and do not be afraid to ask candid questions. Specifically, ask about the overall quality of work, budget, timeliness, cleanliness and safety. Ask about any issues that were encountered during the project. Although the Community Development Department cannot provide recommendations on licensed contractors, the Department can easily open up a listing of other permits that have been pulled by a specific contractor to assist you with checking references.
Question 4: What is the proposed timeline for completion?
It is important to have a clear idea of when the project will start and when it will be completed. Here are a few additional questions to ask that may affect the project schedule: What will the work hours be? What other projects will you be working on concurrently that could affect my schedule? How will changes to the project schedule be addressed?
Question 5: What is the project cost and payment schedule?
It is important to fully understand what is covered in the project cost and what items are excluded. For example, you will want to ask the contractor if the permit fee is included in the project amount or if the permit fee will be an additional charge. It is the contractor’s responsibility to know and understand the adopted building codes, therefore, make sure that it is clear that any code corrections resulting from your contractor’s work will not be an additional charge to the homeowner. Furthermore, it is standard practice to not pay the full project price up front. It is important to ask the contractor about the payment schedule for the project. When will payments be due? It is also common practice to hold the final payment until the project is completed, a final inspection is signed off by the Building Inspector, and all work is accepted by the homeowner.
We hope that this information will be helpful when planning your spring and summer construction projects. Stay tuned for “Tips for a Successful Construction Project, Part Two” in which we will discuss the purpose of Building Permits, the permitting process, and inspections for your upcoming construction project.