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How to Hire a Contractor to Build Your House Plan

Last updated August 16, 2019


Now that you have your house plan and building lot, it is time to hire a contractor.  You've probably already started doing some research, and there are always referrals from family and friends. But how can you find the right person to do this all important job for you? The most important thing to consider is that you should feel comfortable communicating with your contractor – a professional who is open and forthright and understands your needs.


Following are ten key pointers and advice from The Plan Collection (TPC) for hiring and working with a contractor.


  1. Make a list of contractors. Ask your family and friends for the names of reputable builders. Start with your friends and family and then verify their names by checking in with the National Association of  State Contractors Licensing Agencies (www.nascla.org.) You can also visit your local lumberyard who may tell you which contractors have a good reputation, or talk with a local building inspector, who will know which contractors routinely meet code requirements. Contractors should be able to answer any of your questions satisfactorily. You can also ross check their names with the state consumer protection agency and your local Better Business Bureau (BBB) to review a contractors history of disputes with both clients and subcontractors.\
  2. Obtain three written bids for the project. The most important aspect in choosing a building contractor is how well you and he communicate. Remember if a contractor wants half the bid up front, this could be a red flag. Ask them if they can take on a project of your size and if they have any other big projects. Find out if they will provide financial references from banks or suppliers and, of course, you need to get a list of their previous clients.  
  3. Agree on a payment schedule. For larger projects, a schedule usually starts with 10 percent at the signing of the contract, three payments of 25 percent evenly spaced over the duration of the project along with a check for the final 15 percent when everything has been completed. Here are some considerations once you get the bids in:
  4. Toss out the lowball bid. You need to be aware of a contractor who is cutting corners or one who is  desperate for work. The most important factor in choosing a building contractor is how well you and he communicate. Remember if they want half the bid up front this could be a red flag. For larger projects, a schedule usually starts with 10 percent at contract signing, three payments of 25 percent evenly spaced over the duration of the project and a check for the final 15 percent when you feel every item on the punch list has been completed.
  5. Get references for the contractors of your choice. Be sure to call up their clients to find how they liked the contractor and how their home turned out. Take a look at the finished homes or remodel jobs. You can also visit a current job site and see how the contractor and his workmen are doing. Are workers courteous and is the work site safe, neat and clean.
  6. The contractors bidding the job will need your blueprints, your desires and the budget. To compare bids and ask each builder to break down the cost of materials, labor, profit margins and any other expenses. Typically the building materials account for 40 percent of the total cost, and the remaining 60 percent  covers overhead and the profit margin.
  7. Registration/licensing. In the United States visit www.nationalcontractors.com as a starting point for your state and the type of construction. Verify the contractor’s license if required in your area, then ask to see the current licenses, making sure they have  not expired.
  8. Check references and then check them out. Look at the projects and ask the previous clients if they are satisfied with the quality of work done, if it was started and completed on schedule.
  9. Sign a written contract. First understand your contract. The biggest cause of homeowner-contractor disputes is the written contract, from not having one to having one everyone ignores or having a poor contract. Hire a lawyer to review it. The contract needs details for every step of the project including: a payment schedule; proof of liability insurance and worker's compensation payments; a start date and an estimated completion date; specified materials to be used; and a requirement that the contractor obtain lien releases from all subcontractors and suppliers. This will protect you if the contractor does not pay his bills.
  10. Checklist of Contract Items
  • A good contract should include:
  • The company name, address phone number, the name of the builder, contractor and license number. (Post office boxes are not acceptable.)
  • A detailed project description.
  • The products and materials list.
  • A statement that all necessary permits and inspections are the responsibility of the contractor.
  • Starting and completion dates.
  • Warranties of workmanship, the length of the warranty, and specifically what's covered and what's not
  • The contractor must guarantee he carries liability insurance and worker's compensation coverage.
  • A clean-up statement that this will be done by the contractor.
  • Total price and the payment schedule.



You should be leery of hourly, time and materials or cost-plus pricing where the final price is not determined until completion of the project. Fixed prices always give you the best protection.

  • Be cautious about upfront payments for more than 15 percent  of the entire contract price.
  • The payment schedule and criteria for each instalment should be clearly defined.
  • Any payment instalments should be not be required on a certain date, but rather correlated to work completion.
  • Never pay cash. Reputable builders will ask for a check.
  • Make any changes to the project in writing with a "work order change" to avoid any .misunderstandings.
  • Safety issues: Keep children and pets away from the construction site. Wear a hard hat.
  • Inspect the work regularly.
  • Always pay promptly according to the contract.



NOTE: Tell your contractor tat The Plan Collection has begun an open invitation to professional builders to join its Find-A-Builder program. This free, easy-to-use, online feature allows builders to get their name and contact information in front of thousands of house building client prospects -- right before they pull the trigger. Click here for more info.


In summary, you should be satisfied with your new house plan if you follow all of these guidelines. Just remember that most home owners agree, it is worth it in the end.  Take a look at this popular new house plan # 106-1274 from The Plan Collection.This rustic 2,498 sq. ft. three bedroom, three bath ranch style house plan is built in stone, siding and cedar shakes. The full front porch is ideal for peaceful evenings. Inside, the heart of the impressive ranch can be found the open layout of the great room, casual dining room and extensive kitchen, boasting an 8x4 foot island. The central area features a two story stone fireplace with floating wood beams in the two story ceiling.


ranch house plan


Note: Lead image to article photo credit: Annie Gray on Unsplash



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