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Show Highlights

Graham the Lone Podcaster takes the reigns on answering how to pick a contractor for float center build out.

It’s the kind of big decision that every float center owner hopes to only make once, so getting as much information ahead of time is extremely useful. Graham breaks down some useful tips and explains how to ask for a bid, specific skill sets to look for, and general advice on knowing when to walk away.

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Transcription of this episode… (in case you prefer reading)

Graham: All right, welcome back everyone. This is Graham here. And I’m going to be riding it solo today again. But, I think that you’ll enjoy it because I am an enjoyable person. So, see what happens. Today’s question is kind of a general one. But it’s a good one.

I’m actually, I really thought we’d already done an episode on this so I’m glad we get to cover it. The question is just “any tips for choosing contractors?”

Which is a big topic and yes, you want to make sure to choose your contractors very carefully because you’re paying them a lot of money and if they mess things up it’s often really expensive to go back in and fix it. So getting things right is really essential and in one of the biggest things that goes into making sure that your float center is built correctly is just choosing the right people from the very beginning. So, right off the bat, there’s a few things to look for, and then there’s how to actually take bids from contractors once you’ve kind of narrowed it down to your top choice.

And there’s making sure that you’re comparing those bids correctly and that you’re just doing your due diligence once you’ve pretty much decided on who you’re going with. But before you put your signature down on that final contract. So just to start things out, obviously finding a contractor who has experience in the areas you’re looking for is really valuable. So in this case, finding someone who has soundproofing experience who has experience working in wet environments. Your ideal contractor has actually built public swimming pools and done sound studios, professional quality sound studios.

And if you have one general contractor who’s done both those things, that’s really your ideal skill set. Other applications, things like building condos or building any kind of large scale housing type setup usually involve some mount of hefty soundproofing between those walls. So, that’s good background experience to look for. Similarly anything that involves multiple shower areas. Things like gyms or sporting facilities. Those are really good experiences in addition to just pools, stuff like that.

And if they don’t have any of those, it doesn’t disqualify them, but again, the more that you’ve worked in certain applications, the easier it gets. And waterproofing and soundproofing are both so meticulous that if you can find someone who has especially a decent amount or years of experience in that field. That’s really kind of the ideal. And beyond that, pay attention to just general attentiveness and good communication. If you’re trying to interview this person, if you’re trying to get references from them. They’re just dragging their feet and they’re not in communication with you, it’s very similar to talking with a manufacturer early on or with anyone you’re thinking about doing business with. If they’re kind of dragging their heels when you’re trying to give them money, what’s it going to be like when something goes wrong or when it’s an emergency and you really need them to get back to you.

Even if everything else checks out and you’re just not getting the right vibe from the back and forth and how long they’re taking to respond to questions, that’s a good enough reason to not go with someone. And that kind of brings us up to getting references, actually checking those. Don’t get references and just assume because someone provided them that you don’t need to call those people or you don’t need to talk to them. Definitely call the references, definitely check in with them, and also go in person to see examples of the work. Don’t just leave it at “oh you had a phone call with some manager at a place and they said that the work got done on time” and whatever it is.

Actually go to that location and see how it is. Ask the manager if they worked with the contractor directly or if it was the owner of the business working with them. You want to find out from the person’s mouth essentially, from the mouth of the clients of the contractor you’re thinking about hiring, what it was like, what were they like after the fact when they had to be called in to do small repairs, did they feel like the bill was fair throughout the entire process and that work was done promptly. All this stuff is so important that you can’t just do this surface level digging and assume that things are going to be okay.

And I think this really becomes even more true if it’s someone who you know. And we have a whole great podcast episode on trying to dissuade you from hiring friends. So if you are considering hiring a contractor who is your best buddy or something like that, I totally suggest going back and listening to that. I won’t rail on the down sides of hiring friends during this one too much. But it is dangerous. But even if it’s just an acquaintance or someone you know, or someone that came recommended from a trusted source. I think often in that case we’re like, “Oh, well we probably don’t need to check references or we already got a recommendation. That’s how we found the person and that’s a good enough reference for me.”

And don’t fall into the trap of thinking that is true. Always check references. Always go in person. And this is not an un-time consuming thing so plan for a few months in order to actually search and track down the contractor you’re going to work with and don’t feel bad if you have offers of help from acquaintances. If there are people who you know you might get a better deal with and you just end up not going with him because you need to hire the utmost professionals who already have experience in this area. Again, hiring the wrong person or just not paying attention to this 5% of really detailed oriented finish work can mess up the other 95% of both soundproofing and waterproofing. You have to tear out your floors or your walls again within a year or two.

It’s not a place to just rely on trust or go into blindly and just assume that things will have a way of working themselves out. They will work themselves out. It’ll just be expensive.

You’ve kind of done your due diligence. You’ve actually gotten reviews. You’ve gone and scoped places out. Now, you’re on to this point where you maybe have two or three contractors who you’re choosing between then. And then it comes down to the bidding process. And we won’t go too much into detail here except to say that don’t be afraid of really get very detailed with your bids. In our case, we’ve actually even paid for contractors times preparing bids just because we will get so involved with them. And that is so much better than running the risk of something like nebulous soundproofing going into a contracting bid. And soundproofing can mean so many different things when it comes time to do the labor. And when you’re trying to hold their feet to the fire, you can’t really point to that and say, “Oh, why didn’t you do double stud walls? Why didn’t you do double layer drywall?” And they’re like, “Oh, well that’s not basic level soundproofing.” So when you’re getting these bids, do your homework and know what you’re asking for. And actually have them write it in. What kind of sound proofing? Is it double stud walls? Is it the single studs with sound channeling? What’s going on here? And then the same goes for the water proofing.

Are they using some kind of epoxy resin pour on? Is it coving up the walls or is it just going flat up to the walls? What’s on the wall panels? Do those go all the way up to the ceiling? Et cetera. Get down and dirty. And again, sometimes the detail that we require for float centers is actually asking a lot more of contractors than they do for standard bids, so don’t be unwilling to pay them for a couple hours of their work each just in preparing that bid and making sure that you’re happy with the knowledge that you know what you’re getting.

And if you don’t do that, just as a word of warning too, it can really come back to bite you. That’s so many stories of people who end up having to pay a lot more money to their contractors because in a nebulous bid their contractor chose to do the lowest side of what that would suggest and then charged a lot more for everything extra that kind of brought it up to what the owner thought they were asking for from the very beginning. Don’t let that gray area of non description be something that gets in your way.

And I guess just one more little tip on bids too which is don’t take final bids, especially from your final contractor who you’re going to be doing this with without them actually physically coming out to your site and looking around. And without you feeling confident. And probably even getting it in writing that they have surveyed the site. They know what to expect and based on what they’ve seen there shouldn’t be too many surprises that crop up. Because otherwise you’re getting these bids and as soon as the theory of bids crashes into the real world of a physical space especially an older one that might have had work done in the past. All of a sudden bids can really skyrocket when they’re having to tear out old work, when it turns out they can’t do what they thought with the concrete slabs because there’s already pipes running under there, et cetera.

So, never trust a bid without getting the contractor actually out to your site. And yeah, that’s a lot of the things to look for in contractors. Again, I guess the most kind of wishy washy one is just make sure you feel like you’re getting along with the person. In addition to just general responsiveness, to the bids making sense, to feeling like you’re on the same page, if it just feels like you’re always butting heads or you’re each always having to explain things to the other one or your communication just isn’t on, it might not seem like a great idea to use that as the basis for totally dismissing someone. And I guess I just want to give you permission to let it be.

As wishy washy is probably a good word or as soft as that sounds for a reason to not work with someone, it’s that synergy that you get with someone is so important and not having that could mean that you’re not communicating well. And there are misunderstandings. And when it comes to the construction world, small misunderstandings can make large mistakes which can make expensive remodels. Clicking with someone, having that feeling that you like working with them, and especially because it’s so stressful. A build out is just such a chaotic fundamentally difficult challenge that if you’re also butting heads with your contractor, if that relationship isn’t solid, it’ll just make it that much worse.

Just make sure you like the person basically on top of everything else and verifying their work. And that’s it. Thanks for listening to the Graham daily solutions hour here. And if you have any more small questions about big things or big questions about small things, cruise on down to floattanksolutions.com/podcast. We will read what you send in. We’ll judge it harshly and then we’ll answer it anyway. Right here. Talk to you tomorrow. Bye. We won’t actually judge your questions harshly. We love all the questions that come in. Okay. All right. Bye.

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