Selecting a Contractor

All bids must be based on one set of plans and specifications. Even then, you should expect to find a price range not to exceed 20 percent between the lowest and highest bidder. A bid outside of that range suggests someone has either made a mistake or does not want the job.

Select your general contractor based on everything you have learned, including price. If you have pre-qualified the contractor, have good plans and specifications and your contact with the contractor throughout the bidding/decision making process continues to be positive, don't hesitate to take the lowest price.

But if you are unsure of the contractor's qualifications and reputation, think that the bid price is too low and/or have not done your planing and design homework then don't go any further. The law journals are full of cases involving low bids, unqualified contractors, poor contracts and inadequate plans and specifications.

Many contractors, including some of the best ones I know, work on a "design built" basis. They get involved with the client in the earliest stages of the process, help with the planing and provide the design services. This can be a very good process. It does require extra attention to the contractor selection process.