Ask the Builder: Bidding for projects |

Ask the Builder: Bidding for projects

Hello everyone, my name is Steven Torres, I’ve been a general contractor for 20 years and I’m writing a column about home construction and maintenance called “ask the builder” in which I will attempt to inform and entertain you with information related to our biggest investments, our homes. You can reach me with questions at

Today, I would like to talk about how to obtain bids for projects. Suppose you want to have some work done on your house. Where do you begin? If you do not have a contractor in mind I would start by asking friends and associates if they could recommend any qualified licensed contractors to you. From there, you could call and set up meetings with two or more potential candidates, show them your plans, and explain your ideas to them and invite them to bid on the project.

Remember that these people will be working with you closely in your home, so you need to be comfortable with them around. You need to be able to communicate with them effectively to make sure that you get what you want, not something else. The contractor should be accessible and attentive, able to make suggestions that could possibly streamline or enhance the project. Look at his/her vehicle, this could be a clue as to the general cleanliness and professionalism that the contractor maintains.

Analyze the bids closely, are they clear, detailed, timely, and accurate? It’s all about the details. Last but not least, the price. A lot of times the lowest price does not represent the best value. The warm glow of a good value can far out live the sweet flavor of a low cost. Beware of the “super low” number! Unfortunately there are some unethical contractors out there that do not play by the rules.

Some do not carry the proper worker’s comp insurance which potentially leaves the homeowner liable if there is an accident on his/her property. Some do not carry the proper liability insurance which could leave the homeowner unprotected if the contractor damages the home in some way. Do not hesitate to ask for proof of insurance. Some contractors do not pay their suppliers! This could leave the homeowner with a lien filed against his/her property. Some bargain that is! The reputable contractor should be able to give you lien releases before you pay him the final draw.

When you pick the right contractor you have an enthusiastic partner who will work with you to help you achieve your dreams of domestic beauty and function. Construction is a journey, let’s enjoy the ride!

Story of the month:

Some clients of mine recently purchased a beautiful mountain home with “all the goodies.” One of these goodies was matching adjustable magnifying mirrors mounted about the master bathroom vanity. Also above the vanity is a south facing wood window. The clients were wondering what the black gouges were in the window when one sunny day, they smelled smoke … but only in the bathroom. Sure enough, the sun had hit that magnifying mirror at the right angle to reflect and focus the light back onto the wooden window, and nearly burned the house down! They aren’t kidding when they say the mountain sun is powerful.

Steven Torres, “a contractor you can trust,” is a trained mechanical engineer with 20 years experience building and remodeling fine homes in California. He lives in Truckee with his wife and 8-year-old daughter.

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