After finalising the plan with the Architect, he will give you an estimate. The next step is to select a Contractor with the Architect’s help. What does a Contractor do? What are his responsibilities and duties? How do you choose the right Contractor? In this post, as an Architect, I will share some tips on choosing the right Contractor.
DEFINITION OF A CONTRACTOR:
A Contractor is defined as a person who contracts, bids, negotiates a price, offers to construct, supervises, oversees, schedules, directs, alters, repairs, installs, improves, moves, demolishes, furnishes, labors, etc. There are various types of Contractors such as building (residential and commercial); electrical; plumbing; mechanical; etc.
SUMMARY OF A CONTRACTOR’S WORK:
Construction – A Building Contractor is responsible for the construction/execution of the project in accordance with the Contract documents which usually include the Contract agreement, budget, the plans and specification of the project that are prepared by an Architect.
Understand plans: The Contractor examines and interprets the plans. Accordingly, he quotes for the project.
Arrange sanction plans: He arranges for the drawing of plans according to building regulations if the Architect does not include it in his scope of work. He also arranges for the submission of plans to local authorities for approval and inspections of building work.
Calculate quantities of materials: required for building projects and order these from building suppliers or advertise for tenders.
Supplying of Labour, Materials, Equipment etc. – A Building Contractor is responsible for supplying material, labour, equipment, (engineering vehicles and tools) and services necessary for the construction of the project. He arranges delivery times of materials to coincide with various stages of the building process
Maintains a construction labour force: The Building Contractor usually retains a construction labour force.
Subcontracts: The Contractor generally subcontracts part of the work to other persons and companies that specialize in these types of work. These Subcontractors put up the foundation, walls, roof, electrical and plumbing systems, supply the labour etc.
Supervises the work of Subcontractors to make sure buildings are of an acceptable standard and are proceeding according to schedule.
Office staff: He also maintains an office staff involved in the preparation of bills and payment of accounts.
Undertake some of the building work personally and he goes to site everyday to make sure everything is going according to schedule.
WORK DEMANDS OF A BUILDING CONTRACTOR
From the above summary, it is clear that a Contractor’s work is mostly outdoor and demands the following:
Dust: Working in dusty or polluted environment.
Hands-on: Full use of hands/fingers.
Manual work: Heavy lifting and physical effort…
Out in the Sun: Mainly outdoor work.
Standing: for long periods.
Mathematical ability: for preparing bills, calculating quantities.
Ideally look out for a Contractor who is a civil engineer or done a diploma in civil engineering.
PERSONALITY TRAITS OF A GOOD BUILDING CONTRACTOR –
A Building Contractor must have the following traits in order to make a mark:
Good communication skills
Management and leadership skills
Good organizational skills
SELECTING A CONTRACTOR:
Choosing a Contractor: is an important step in the process of House Construction. The right Contractor will give you a comfortable, well finished home whereas the wrong one will give you trouble through the period of construction, will slow down the work and sometimes will walk out of the project before completion. While choosing a Contractor, I suggest you go through the Architect, because they already share a working relationship and the Contractor is answerable to the Architect. So he will not take you for a ride.
Architect’s recommendation: The Architect will usually suggest 2 or 3 Contractors, whom he feels will suit your temperament, budget and project. The Architect will then invite the Contractors to quote for your project. Based on the quote that is closest to his estimate, the Architect will recommend a particular Contractor. However, the final decision is yours and you should choose the Contractor whom you feel, instinctively will do justice to your project and with whom you will get along.
Friend’s suggestions: Very often, Clients have come to me with Contractors suggested by their friends or family. This is also a good option because the Contractors will feel answerable since they are recommended by a known person. But even then make a background check, be sure that they deliver as promised and are willing to correct any mistakes or agree to changes.
Client acting as a Contractor: Occasionally the Client commissioning the construction of the building, chooses to act as the Contractor. In such cases, he works directly with various Subcontractors and takes on all liability for proper sequencing of the work, and dealing with the realities of construction. However, more times than not, the risks far outweigh the potential reward of saving the Contractor’s profit even if things go perfectly. Owners considering this approach should keep in mind that Contractors make a living, working with known Subcontractors. An established Contractor will have established relationships that will outlast one construction project and the Subcontractors will acknowledge this with their cooperation whereas the client seldom has this advantage as most Subcontractors will recognize the risk of working with a one time client with higher bids. Also the Owner is likely to be cheated on the quality of building materials and products as he is not an expert in it.
The client, Architect and Building Contractor work closely together to meet deadlines and budget. The Building Contractor works with his team of Subcontractors and labourers to ensure quality standards and make sure that the project is completed within the specified time and budget. The next step is the start of construction.
Once the contractor has been selected, you can actually start the construction. But it is highly recommended that you perform some rituals before the start of construction such as Bhoomi Pooja.