When a project or job around the Co-op is beyond the skills of Members, then a contractor needs to be brought in. And, usually, when a contractor is brought in there needs to be a process of seeking three bids in order to ensure that we are getting the best quality of workmanship as well as the best price. And here are some important points to remember:
Before seeking bids:
Create a project description that Members seeking bids can show (or give) to each contractor:
Make sure to detail all work H&G wants done: preparation, actual work, and clean up!
Its o.k. if you don’t know all the small details, but if you do know there is a specific brand, type of wood, or used vs. new materials, then put it on the detailed list.
When the bids come in:
Check the bid:
Make sure all the work you want done and how you want it done is listed in the bid.
Make sure some sort of timeline is spelled out for the project.
Make sure a payment timeline is spelled out. Money up front is common, but should not exceed 50%, and no final payment will be made until all work is completed.
Make sure all the necessary information for checking the contractor’s license, insurance, suppliers, and references is listed on the bid.
A contractor can say they do good work but how do you know?
Call or go and look at the work we ask them to list on their bid.
EBHC is a good reference. Encourage Members to seek bids from contractors who have done good work for EBHC in the past.
The lowest price bid may not be the best bid:
Sometimes a bid may be low because the contractor uses cheap materials that won’t last very long;
A contractor may under estimate the time to complete the job and end up adding time later, which costs the Co-op more;
Or they may just be giving the Co-op a good discount.
When you accept a bid:
You will call the contactor and let them know and sign the bid and send a copy back to the contractor.
The contractor should then supply (if they didn’t with the bid) a copy of “Information Notice to Owners About Construction Liens”. This is an information notice about liens and how to protect yourself from liens. The contractor is required by state law to provide this information and get you to acknowledge receiving this information on any larger construction projects. There may be some additional forms as well, just read them all and make sure you understand them. Signing them does NOT give up any rights for recourse.
The bottom line is look at every bid carefully and under stand why a contractor is charging (or not charging) for everything listed on the bid.
Finally, not all jobs are going to need three bids. The Co-op often has small electrical and plumbing jobs that cost under $100 but are beyond the skills of a Member. H&G could and should set up a process where trusted contractors are always called for these small repairs and these contractors should understand that if any job turns in to something bigger than a simple repair that an estimate of the larger job should be submitted before work progresses. Members should still come to a H&G meeting or a H&G coordinator before contacting a contractor so they don’t over spend the H&G budget.