How to Choose a Contractor

Choosing the right contractor to suit your building and construction needs is vital to ensure that the project is completed properly, professionally and safely.

Every year, massive law suits are battled between companies and clients due to careless injuries, ill-constructed buildings or projects that miss deadlines. Whether choosing a contractor for construction needs such as scaffolding and formwork, or for temporary structures such as scaffolding and seating at a major event, a client needs to familiarise themselves with what to look for in terms of outstanding qualities of a prospective contractor.

Where to Start

To begin the process of choosing a contractor, a good approach is to select at least three reputable contractors and ask them to assess the job in terms of what they can offer.

If they are a trusted and reliable company with a good work ethic, they will answer any questions asked and give advice on important factors of construction such as materials, time frame, costs and so forth. The quality of the advice which they dispense is a key indicator as to who will do a good job and who will do an outstanding job.

Always ask for a quote and make sure that it is received in writing.

Better Safe Than Sorry…

The next step in the selection process is to assess what safety standards are upheld by a contractor.

In South Africa, there is an OHS Act & SANS 100085 with which all construction companies should be certified. Construction companies should also uphold and follow the various health and safety procedures as outlined by the Act in every construction project they embark on.

Employees should be fully trained by a Construction Education Training Authority (CETA) approved college or educator. It is illegal in fact to have labourers who are not trained in accordance with the SANS 10085 as promulgated in the Construction Regulations, which is a part of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHS Act).

When standards are increased by the government, the company should train their employees immediately to meet with this standard of safety. If a client is considering the use of a construction company that is not up to par with these standards, the project may become hindered by injury of labourers or bystanders and both the construction company and developers may face serious legal action.

What You Want Should Be What You Get

Another important aspect to consider when hiring a contractor is to become familiar with the materials and the types of surface work which can be used as a decoration if your project is going to have flat areas, such as a terrace.

There are many ways in which simple effects such as decorative concrete can add a cost-effective and aesthetic benefit. It is a good idea to make sure that the contractor is up to date with these techniques before they begin labour.

The crux of whether or not a contractor is trustworthy, experienced and capable of doing the job you require correctly is how they react when asked for some local references.

Any contractor based in one location or even dispersed nationally should be more than happy to provide the addresses of some previous construction jobs which they have completed. If they cannot offer any references, or their references do not seem to exist, then hiring them is going to be problematic.

It is important that those wanting to hire a contractor do check previous jobs with someone who is experienced in formwork and scaffolding, as mistakes are easily hidden from a layman’s point of view.

Finally, the decision as to which contractor is right for the job should not only be based on the findings of the points discussed above, but also on gut instinct or whether you are able to effectively communicate with them. If a contractor does not “feel right” for the job, or is not respectful to you there is no point in hiring them for the contract as there needs to be a healthy working relationship between both parties.