No. But they’re not all created equal.Building a custom home is a complicated and expensive endeavor, and worrying about a crooked contractor only adds to the stress. But we promise there are lots of honest, professional home builders to be found.
Why is this even an issue?Home building is an extremely competitive industry with relatively low barriers for entry. In Washington state, all that is needed is a business formation and an ability to obtain a small bond. There aren’t any tests required. This means that there are a lot of technically qualified people who are inexperienced or uneducated trying to make a profit off something that seems simple, but is surprisingly and increasingly complicated — building a custom home. Some things are simple to understand, but very difficult to do well. Additionally, many home building companies — particularly smaller organizations — are managed by a carpenter who has moved up through the ranks to an executive level. Although this position is undoubtedly deserved, building a home requires deft planning skills and management of an incredible number of people, parts, and pieces. The skill set needed to manage multiple vendors, trade contractors, suppliers, team members, building officials, and more are rarely the same skills that make a great carpenter. But that is the position carpenter executives often find themselves in. It’s important to state that these circumstances don’t necessarily make contractors crooked. They are simply unfortunate recipes for disaster and miscommunication when it comes to the complicated and expensive task of building a custom home. These circumstances get many well-intended companies and people into difficult situations. If a company does not have a strong moral compass, the results are often disastrous. And unfortunately, as is the case in any industry, sometimes there are simply crooked people looking to cut corners and make a profit for the least amount of work possible, leaving homeowners stuck with an expensive mess.
Trustworthy contractors are out there.Despite the complicated aspect of home building and ulterior motives of some, we promise that professional, experienced, and honest contractors can be found. We have the honor of frequently judging for the National Housing Quality Award, and regularly visit building organizations throughout the United States that amaze us with the level of high-quality work, and the amount of professional, good-natured, morally-grounded, hardworking people that we find there. These are the people you want in the trenches with you when the going gets tough.
What are the signs of a good contractor?There are several signs of an honest and knowledgeable contractor:
- They have been in business for many years.
- They have a solid reputation.
- They openly communicate and involve you in decisions.
- They come across as generally organized.
- There are signs of managerial systems in place.
- They utilize computerization and technology in their planning and communications.
- They don’t like to change orders, and they set up systems to help customers avoid them.