We’ve all heard the horrifying stories about contractors who fail to properly complete a project in someone’s home and then take off with the cash, leaving the homeowner high and dry.
If you want to build a guesthouse on your property, you have to do your research in order to find a contractor who can get the job done and not leave you in the lurch.
Not sure how to find the best building contractor in your area? No worries! We’ve compiled a list of tips and tricks to help you find the perfect contractor for your guesthouse.
Before Doing Anything, Be Sure to Know the ADU Laws in Your City
ADU laws, or accessory dwelling unit laws, are a set of laws that describe what can be constructed on your property and how it must be constructed. These laws are unique from city to city, so you will want to check with the planning and zoning department at city hall to see what they have on the books.
For example, the City of Phoenix limits you to one guest house per lot and has restrictions on parking and the size of the guest house.
Your contractor should be familiar with the ADU laws in your city, and they should be familiar with which permits that need to be acquired in order to commence construction. Having your own knowledge of the process will help you weed out untrustworthy contractors.
Know What You Want, but Be Realistic
There are many types of guesthouses you can build on your property. Are you looking for a place for your relatives to stay when they come to visit? Do you want it to be energy efficient or would you prefer a no-holds-barred luxury guest house?
How you want to use it dictates what you need to include and what types of permits you’ll need. Most importantly, you want to make sure that what you want can be achieved within your budget. A good contractor will give you an honest evaluation of this.
Do a Thorough Check of Reviews and References
There are several websites online that allow customers to review the service they received. Try looking your potential contractors up on Angie’s List or Yelp! because they make an effort to verify the reviews.
Don’t rely on online reviews alone — ask your potential contractors to give you references from previous customers.
Check Complaints and Litigation History
Check online for evidence of complaints or lawsuits between this contractor and previous customers. You can check with your local court, too, to see if they have been the subject of litigation.
Be sure to also check the Better Business Bureau to see if any complaints have been filed against them.
Confirm the Contractor Is Licensed and Insured
All contractors must be properly licensed and insured before they can work on any projects. Ask them for a copy of their license as well as copies of the licenses of any subcontractors who will be working on your new guest house.
Can They Build a Guesthouse?
Just like in any other profession, contractors frequently have types of construction in which they specialize. Obviously, you wouldn’t want someone who typically constructs office buildings to build your guest house, but that doesn’t mean any residential contractor will do.
Ask if they have constructed a guest house before, and ask for photos of their past work to verify the information.
They Should Provide Clear Information
Good contractors will provide you with clear information about the project. First, they will give you an estimate for the cost of the project.
Be sure not to max out your budget in the estimate. Always leave room for surprise costs.
Trustworthy contractors will also give you a relatively firm schedule in terms of when construction will commence, and when it will end. The key here is patience. The best contractors will have a busy schedule and won’t be able to start work right away, but rest assured, they are worth the wait.
Lastly, once you have agreed to move forward with a contractor, ask them for a list of workers. They should be able to provide you information about how many people will be working on your property, and who will be working on what.
If a potential contractor is being vague about expectations, look elsewhere.
Interview Three or More Contractors
This helps you in a few ways. First, it allows you to get a good idea of the cost involved in your project, from materials to labor. Second, it allows you to weed out contractors who are charging far too much and far too little — an indication that they are not necessarily being upfront with you about how much the project will cost.
Lastly, this allows you to negotiate the price down on your project by leveraging one offer against another.
Set a Payment Schedule
Do not ever pay a contractor the full amount for a project up front. Barring the necessity of certain luxury materials, the most you should pay up front should generally be about 10%.
Following the initial payment, establish a payment schedule that is determined by progress toward completion. For example, pay 10% down, 15% when they reach 25% completion, and then 25% for each quarter of completion thereafter. Do not make the final payment until they have reached 100% completion.
Sign a Detailed Contract
This is incredibly important. A contract is the first document a court will look at in the event you encounter issues and go to court with the contractor.
The contract should lay out exactly what work will be performed; the estimated start and completion dates; the materials that will be used, including specific models and the vendor from which they will be purchased; and the payment schedule.
If your project is particularly costly, consider hiring an attorney to go over the contract before signing. Be sure to put any changes that you and the contractor agree upon in writing as well.
Check out Our Website for All Your Luxury Construction Needs!
Finding a great contractor to build your dream guesthouse is the hardest part of getting it constructed.
Now that you’ve found the right contractor to build a guesthouse, sit back, relax, and start planning how you’ll decorate your new guesthouse!
If you’d like to expand your property by adding a luxury guest home, call Peak One Builders! As a top residential construction contractor in Phoenix, we can help make your vision a reality. Give us a call today at (480) 378-0611 to get started.