Appointing a Contractor (Post-Quote)

 II. Appointing a Contractor (Post-Quote):

The appointment:

When the contractor arrives, take note of:

·       Punctuality & Professionalism/ how they conducted themselves.

·       Your gut-feel of the person.

You are looking for someone who was reasonably punctual, ideally had a branded vehicle &/or handed you a business card, looked fairly presentable (for a Contractor), knew what he was talking about, explained himself (or herself) clearly & generally inspired confidence – someone you could see yourself working with.

I’ve had clients tell me a previous Contractor had been out earlier, yet they did not know his name or the name of the company?

If all this checks out, allocated a Star *. 1st Star


Next, during the consultation, ask questions, like;

1.      Do you carry Public Liability & Contractors All Risk cover?

2.      Are your staff full-time or ‘Casuals’?

3.      Do you use Sub Contractors & if so, what parts of the job will they be doing?

4.      How long will the job take from start to finish?

5.      How long after I approve your quote, will you be able to start?

6.      Do you require a deposit &, if so, how much is it?

7.      Do you supervise the job & if so, do you do daily site visits.

8.      How long have your staff been with you.

9.      What hours do you work?

10.  Do your staff need access to water, power & a toilet?

What you are looking for is a company that is fully insured, has permanent staff, uses "Subbies" only for specialized parts of the project, with daily site visits by the owner & proper supervision.

You are also looking to exclude a Contractor who appears to over-promise.

A friend once appointed a Contractor based largely on the fact that he said he could do the job in the shortest time, he claimed he’d do it in less than half the time the other Contractors said they’d require – however, in the end, this Contractor took 3 x longer than he said he would.  

The answers to these 10 questions (& others you may have) will give you an impression, allocate a Star * to the contractor who makes you feel most at ease with their answers. 2nd Star




The Quote:

On receipt of the Quotes, before looking at the price, study the quote, is it in a professional format, does it provide all the information, is it well laid out, does it cover what was discussed, does it give a rough timeline, does it explain the basic terms & conditions etc.

Note:   Many contractors only send the full T’s & C’s on acceptance.

              It is foolish to put your banking details on the quote, due to hacking.

If you like the quote, it’s layout, its content, it’s feel & it looks professional (ignoring the price), allocate a Star * 3rd Star



This is where horror stories are born – in MOST bad experience stories, clients ignore all the advice above & select a Contractor based purely on price. DO NOT do this!

Firstly, check that the quotes cover the entire project & any exclusions or items not included are clearly listed. Then check that the quotes (be it 2 or 3) cover the same scope, in other words, do an ‘apples for apples’ comparison.

If there is a discrepancy, contact the contractor & ask why certain items are not on the quote.

Once you have 2 or 3 ‘apples for apples’ quotes, look at the pricing.

My advice is to look at the quotes & if the prices are similar, use all the other criteria (other than price) to choose the Contractor.

If one quote is significantly lower than the others, that is a red flag - ignore that quote.

If the quotes amounts are wildly different (say Quote 1 is R20k, Quote 2 is R30k & Quote 3 is R40k), try to establish why, if it’s not clear, contact the most expensive Contractor & ask why his pricing is significantly higher (without divulging too much info about the other quotes).

There may be a good reason - perhaps he removes the rubble daily & none of the contractors mentioned rubble removal - you can then go back to the others & ask them if rubble removal is included and, if not, could they include it, for example.

If you cannot resolve the wide discrepancy, perhaps consider getting a 4th quote.


Once you are satisfied you have 2 or 3 comparative quotes, allocated a Star * to the best (not the cheapest) Quote. 4th Star


Then allocated a ‘Bonus Star’ to the Contractor you ‘feel’ will do the best job, the one who has impressed you the most, or seems the most honest & trustworthy.  5th Star


Now tally up the Stars:

The number of Post-Quote Stars, out of 4, that you allocated, plus the Bonus Star.


Appoint the Contractor who received the most Stars, if there is a ‘tie’ two of more contractors with the same number of stars, make a judgement call or appoint the one with the best price.


Following the advice above should assist in selecting the right contractor & will, largely, eliminate most of the bad experiences’ clients have with home improvement projects.


TheHouse Doctor 2023

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