About the Contractor


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What does a contractor do? Which type of contractor do you need? How to choose and find a contractor? How to work with and get the most of your contractor? What are the contractor’s fees? These are some of the aspects that Dalia Sadany addresses in this article about the contractor which also includes useful tips and illustrative diagrams

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About the Contractor

  1. 1. 78 Dalia speaks OCTOBER 2011 79 Credit of Photography Ahmed Mleeg All site photographs are from the construction of the project. The 2- Work: The contractor hires sub- actual Dezines’ projects contractor hires specialists to do different contractors; as well as individual workers. jobs. These specialists, better known as The Contractor hires, schedules and pays the subcontractors are responsible to the subs. When you hire a Contractor, you the contractor who in turn is responsible only have a contract with him not the to the owner. The contractor is the “last subs. A good Contractor has an extensive man out” of the project. He or she takes network of relations with all types of care of all the finer details and takes subs. He has worked with many subs ,and responsibility for your overall satisfaction. knows the best in terms of quality, cost, More importantly, the contractor ensures and ability to deliver on time. He also that the project is completed on time and knows how they work and is able to deal within budget. with them. It is because of this ongoing relationship, the Contractor makes sure What does a contractor do? that he gets a high quality job from the 1- Bid: The tender is treated as an offer subs. At the same time, the subs are to do the work for a certain amount of confident of dealing with a construction money (lump sum), or a certain amount professional that will pay them on time of profit (cost plus). The tender that is and bring future jobs. usually submitted by the competing contractors is generally based on a bill Types of Contractors of quantities__ where approximate There are different types of contractors. quantities of materials, parts and labor All the criteria that we are going to costs are itemized. It generally shows the discuss later -how to choose, work with cost estimate in square meters for walls, and pay a contractor - are the same and THE number of doors and windows, etc apply to all of them; CONTRACTOR "Dalia Sadany Ask Magazines design consultant, In the previous article, we voyaged into the world of “The Architect”, the main Chief Designer, Founder of Dezines Architecture artery in the body of any construction. & Interiors, Managing Director & Partner of We discussed their role in the building Divine Contracting is dwelling into the world of process, how to choose and deal with him, their fees and the documents you Architecture, Interior Design, and Contracting." should expect from them during the proper sequence of execution. In this article, we will venture into the less dreamy, more aggressive hectic world of “The Contractor”. Their role is by no means of a lesser importance than that of the architect. Simply because no matter how professional the architect is, and the designs he prepares are brilliant; as well as fully detail and mirror the client’s visions, yet they are still ideas on paper;only an experienced contractor can interpret them properly into reality with the upmost quality and perfection. What is a Contractor? The contractor executes the architect’s designs. He turns your dream home from a conceptual design into reality. In doing so, he or she is responsible for the day-to- day management of the construction site; as well as providing all the equipment, materials, and services required for ASK OCTOBER 2011
  2. 2. 80 Dalia speaks OCTOBER 2011 81 other venue I would highly recommend is 1- There is the construction contractor; driving around your area to look at homes the individual or firm responsible for having work done. You can also check the construction of buildings, land professional magazines, which could be excavation, soil treatment, laying the a good source of information. Surfing the foundations, columns, beams, slabs; net should be your last resort. as well as wall brick work. TIPS 2- There is the finishing contractor, the • Make sure you choose a well established individual or firm responsible for experienced contractor with a good executing all the finishing work such portfolio, so that he would be as resourceful as plastering, electromechanical, as possible with sub-contractors. So, if the floorings, tiling, painting etc…. sub-contractors drop out or don’t do their jobs right then their substitutes would be 3- There is the landscape contractor, available when needed. the individual or firm responsible for executing all hardscape and • Make sure that the contractor you softscape. He could execute the pool choose is capable of working in your area, with its electromechanical or sub it to putting into consideration that small a separate firm under his supervision. contractors could charge you excess money for travel expenses. Whether 4- There is the General contractor who bigger contracting professionals would would perform all of the above. have that point covered due to their various diversified work sites. solving, teamwork, time-management accomplishments. Try to see pictures of How to work properly with a and budgeting skills. Having rapport with their previous work to get a sense of their “Why Hire a General Contractor?” your contractor is very important. You abilities and make sure they have done contractor? An experienced general contractor can usually determine that at your first the same work you want done. Whenever Good contractors are good project provides countless benefits: meeting. Ask questions about their past possible, visit past clients’ homes to see managers. The key skill sets you should be looking for are communication, problem projects, their clients, qualifications. and the contractor’s work firsthand. • They know how to manage subcontractors and integrate tasks; • Contractors are in this business neck deep, so they may introduce you to ideas you haven’t considered; • One point of contact for any questions and concerns will make your life easier. Having the project managed reduces the stress of having always to be available, favourably by one person allows you to concentrate on product selection, and focus on fine details; as well as monitoring the process. What does a Contractor deal with? How to choose a contractor? Building a house requires 30 to 50 There is no shortage of contractors • A general contractors experience different tasks depending on the in all fields in Egypt, but they are not allows ease of execution, and reliable complexity of the design. These tasks household names. They generally don’t problem solving. are spread over the construction process advertize themselves so you have to do where some tasks run concurrently, some homework. I always prefer personal • Key knowledge of all aspects of while others overlap. Since construction recommendations myself. Start with your construction, and how to co-ordinate requires the integration of these tasks, architect first, ask for his preferences. the different stages and trades the management of subcontractors is an If for any reason that doesn’t work: ask involved is imperative to a smooth essential part of the Contractor’s job. friends, relatives, neighbors, colleagues experience. etc. If you have good work experience Below is a diagram that clarifies the with subcontractors, then ask them too, • Connections with material suppliers number of sub-contractors involved in but make sure, they had some former mean better pricing and faster service. the construction of a house. satisfying experience with them. One ASK OCTOBER 2011
  3. 3. 82 Dalia speaks OCTOBER 2011 83 Once satisfied with the cooperation of A- The Lump Sum Contract: is when the Contractor, you can proceed further the Contractor provides the required in getting an estimate of the cost. Get a contracting services for a fixed price feel for the contractor when asking for covering the cost of labor, materials, the quotes. If the quote is very detailed, supplies, equipment, and professional consultants to do the job as well as the theres a good chance their work will • How many projects have you done? contractor’s overhead and profit margin. also so be thorough.. If the quote is unorganized and takes a long time to • How long will the project take and give a complete, then that could be a sign of maximum dead line if I hold up my end? B- Cost-Plus-Contract: its contract is direct what his work habits will be like. • Which interior designers or architects costs and an additional percentage. did you work with? The calculated cost of Labor, materials, There are no hard and fast rules for the supplies, equipment known as direct • How do you handle change orders? costs, added to that a fixed percentage, number of estimates you should get. to bad quality control or inappropriate Some people prefer to get a number of • Who were your two best and worst which covers the fees for the contractor. choice of the materials agreed on. bids before making a decision. Others clients? Why? Below is a diagram that explains the • Make sure you have a penalty clause discover after the interview process that • Compare the estimate carefully and During the work • Who are your top 3 material suppliers? differences between both methods in your contract in case of delay of there is one contractor they strongly make sure that everything you ask for • If there are any delays in your remodeling • How accurate does your cost estimate work that is not due to you; whether in prefer, and consequently only ask that is included. plans, or if you make any changes, let tend to be? Tips paying or doing changes, and also not contractor to submit an estimate. What your contractor know right away. matters is that you feel comfortable you • In your comparison, make sure that the • From your experience where in the work • Make sure the method of payment is due to designer’s alterations. have enough adequate information quality level is a constant factor. • If you are in charge of having the material process does usually mark ups happen, In the upcoming article we will enter the ready, then you should have that material clearly clarified in your contract;,as well world of the glamorous Interior designer, to make the right choice. As a general • Ask the contractor to submit it in person available to prevent any delays. if ever? And by what percentage? as the installments, whether related to and dig deep into all the aspects needed rule, with the proper drawings and so you can discuss it. dates or scope of work. • Dont stick your nose in the subs work, How are Contractors paid? to have a fruitful choice and a successful specifications, three estimates will usually • Assume that anything not listed is not provide sufficient information for you to if you have any comments never go Generally, there are two types of • Make sure you have a penalty clause in collaboration with one. included in the price. contracts: Lump Sum Contract and Cost- your contract that could protect you in You can reach me at my email make a decision. directly to the subs, go to the contractor, • Make sure the contractor provides you he manages them. Plus Contract. the situation of bad work execution due askdalia@ask.com with a construction schedule. Tips: • You have to tell your contractor your Before the work • Sometimes contractors submit lower comments and requests, but you have • Try to stick to reputable credible tenders to win the contract and get the to also LISTEN, he is the expert. job. Don’t jump for the lowest bid. It may companies to eliminate future be unrealistically low. The contractor • Pay right away, don’t delay payments, problems that could occur. because that will accordingly delay work, may not have understood the project, • Request a formal bid based on the plans may be underestimating what it will and specifications prepared by your Interview Questions for Contractors take to complete the work, or simply architect. trying to get a price advantage over • What is the average number of jobs you do at the same time? • Make sure you give the same set of the competitors. Generally speaking, plans to all bidders to make sure you if a bid looks too good to be true, it • Will there be someone on-site and in can properly compare the bids. probably is. charge of my job each day? ASK OCTOBER 2011