Choosing the right contractor to build your dream studio can also be an exercise in patience and diligence. Because of the complexity of a glassblowing studio the first 10 or so contractors that we contacted flat out refused to even bid. We finally got two of them to visit the site, look at drawings that were already architect ready and have a conversation.
When choosing a contractor, you need to be aware that you and the contractor will (or should be) working very closely throughout the entire build out process. So, you better like and trust each other. Look for the signals and make a judgment before you agree to anything. Trust your gut. Buyer beware really applies here. Check their contractor’s license to make sure it is current, ask for references and make sure to check those references in person. Also, do an Internet search to check and see if there are any pending legal actions on the company. In short, do your homework. In the end, however, it will still come down to the relationship you develop with your contractor.
Next, get a quote in writing. Don’t accept a bulk description and a single price. Make the contractor break it down into a line item quote. Be prepared to challenge any of the line items. A contractor goes out and hires and manages “subcontractors.” It is your contractor’s responsibility to make sure his subs do the job right, on time, at the right price and stay on budget. In our case, “on time” was critical. Even if a delay does not cost us any additional outlay, the delay in reopening could cost us our business. You can bet that I will be on site every day until the job is completed.
You need to have some type of written agreement in place before any money changes hands. The agreement needs to cover schedule, costs, potential add-ons and how they are handled, schedule of payment and you should address some form of resolution process to disagreements. Without an authorized agreement, you are just allowing your contractor to put the needle into your arm and take as much blood they want. I watched a friend who opened a bakery/restaurant be bled dry. It really does happen.