Metal building contractors are like any other contractor: some you can rely on, but others are very unreliable. You need to hire the right contractor for your project, and this takes patience, time and knowing what to look for in a contractor.
Ask the Building Provider for a Recommendation
Where are you buying the steel building from? General Steel, for example, has contractors that they recommend. The company sells the building, the contractor erects the building. It’s a simple process, and the company makes it easier by vetting all of their contractors thoroughly.
Contractors often network with building providers, and this allows the provider to recommend a local contractor in their customer’s area.
What’s nice about this type of arrangement is that:
- Prices are not marked up
- Prices are competitive
- Contractors charge their normal rate
One of the best options when looking for a steel building contractor is to ask for a recommendation. A local contractor that can get the job done is a necessity. And when you meet with contractors to give you an estimate, you’re under no obligation to use them.
This is by far the best way to find a contractor, but you can also find your own contractor. You’ll need to ask the contractor questions before hiring them. Proper vetting should be done even if the contractor is recommended.
Questions to Ask Metal Building Contractors
Before going through the basics of selecting a contractor (view the next section), you’ll need to ask the contractor a few questions. The following questions are a great starting point:
- Are you fully licensed? A lot of contractors are not licensed, and this means that you’re putting your building at risk. Fully licensed contractors must meet local and state requirements to get their contractor’s license. Rigorous testing, financial requirements and experience are needed to be a licensed contractor. Every state’s requirements are different, and they can all be found here.
- How much experience do you have? This is a tricky question to ask because contractors need to get experience somewhere. You may find a new contractor that will be doing their first job on your project. But there are also contractors that have experience working for others that will count. For example, a contractor that has been in business for six months may not sound experienced, but when talking to the contractor, you may find that they’re worked in the business for 20 years and have built 50 steel buildings.
- Are all buildings built to local code? State and city codes are a must-have with every building. Your building must meet these codes if you want it to have a safe, sturdy structure. First and foremost, local codes may require a building to be hurricane proof in Florida. Hurricane Andrew, which left many communities demolished, demonstrated the necessity for all buildings to be able to sustain high winds. Buildings that are not up-to-code pose a risk to the owner and may result in fines and penalties. Building codes protect your financial investment. Period.
- Do you have experience with metal buildings? A contractor may be fully capable of building a metal building, but do they have actual experience in the area? The ideal metal building contractor will specialize in building structure, primarily steel or metal structures.
- Do you partner with local specialists? Partnerships with local specialists are very important. A contractor may be able to erect a building, but can the contractor do the electrical or plumbing work as well as a specialist? Probably not. A contractor that works with local specialists, primarily HVAC, electricians and plumbers will be able to streamline the building process. The final product is also better when specialists come in to complete the job.
- Do you secure all of the necessary permits? If permits are needed for the job, you’ll want to find a contractor that knows all of the necessary permits and can secure them on your behalf. This will help push the project along faster and also ensures that your building doesn’t result in penalties, fines or other legal hassles down the road.
These are just a few of the many basic questions you’ll want to ask your contractor before they begin working on your project.
Follow These Basics When Choosing a Contractor
Your own due diligence can help a lot when choosing a contractor. You’ll want to do the following to make sure that your choice is a good one:
- Never pick a random contractor. You have too many resources at your fingertips to ever even consider picking a random contractor.
- Research the contractor’s ratings. Contractor ratings are very important, and this means researching their ratings and reviews on Angie’s List, Better Business Bureau and other competing sites. See what others are saying about the contractor, with a special focus on build quality and responsiveness.
- Ask for competitive bids. You don’t want to trust your building’s construction to the first person you come across. There are ample contractors that can get the work done. You’ll want to ask around to find the best price. Oftentimes, you’ll find extremes: contractors offering to do a project for $10,000 and some offering to do it for $30,000. Neither extreme may be the right choice. Research into the contractor will always be more important than price. It’s better to pay more for a solid building construction than less for a building that doesn’t meet local code requirements and isn’t completed until months after the deadline.
- Ask for a contract. Your state may not require a contract, but it’s important to get one. Contracts act as a blueprint for the work to be completed. Also, make sure that individual expenses are written into the contract so that there are budget guidelines to be followed. You’ll also want your contract to contain a list of all materials that are required.
- Ask about warranties. Your contract must have the warranty information included, too. Warranties will allow you to have peace of mind in knowing that you’re financially safe if your building’s roof leaks or something is structurally wrong with the final product. Warranties vary, and you may also have a warranty from the building’s supplier that you’ll want to inquire about.
- Write everything down. Everything should be written down. When a problem arises, write it down. When work isn’t completed on time, write it down. Emailed or called the contractor? Write it down. Document everything so that you have a solid history of any problems that may have arisen during the building of your structure.
I would also recommend having a design for your building ready to go. What the design does is allow you to avoid hidden markups. You’ll also be in the driver’s seat and can say: this is what I want. You might be scared of the entire process, but be confident when talking to contractors.
You’re the one hiring the contractor, so don’t be afraid to haggle prices and try to get the best deal possible.
There are times when you may feel intimidated when asking for a quote or discussing your options with a contractor, but until you sign on the dotted line, you have no obligation to hire a specific contractor. Go with your gut. Read reviews on the contractor, and also do your due diligence.