How do you find the perfect barn builders to build your barn?
It is important to be selective when choosing the right carpenter to work with you building a barn. No matter how involved you plan to be in the process you want someone who understands what you are trying to accomplish and will listen to you instead of telling you how great they are.
Of course you do need to know that they do quality work. A couple referrals and maybe some pictures of their work is a good place to start. Ask them how long they have been building. Determine what they specialize in. Do they build mostly pole barns? Or homes? Or maybe decks?
It would be great if they have some experience building log homes. Contractors who have built log homes have a greater understanding of rough cut lumber and transitioning to a post and beam barn will be easy for them.
It is okay if you don't find a builder who is experienced with log or timber building. Your post and beam barn kit is designed and engineered to be easy to build by any good contractor. If you're handy and know your way around a hammer and saw...you may even want to handle the post and beam construction yourself. It is still a good idea to get input from a licensed builder.
So how do you get started?
First call at least 3 contractors and get estimates from each.
When you meet with these builders, you can get a good idea of their abilities and commitment to your ideas. Observe how they react to your comments and how they answer your questions. Do they ask you questions? Or do they spend all their time telling you about how great they are?
Do they allow you to speak or do they dominate the conversation?
This will be an early indication of how they will perform on your project. A level of self confidence is important...but people who are truly self confident and really good at what they do, will display those characteristics without trying. An attempt to dominate the conversation or talk endlessly about how great they are is a sign of someone who is really not sure of themselves.
If they talk to much about themselves, who do you think they will be concerned with when it really counts?
Trust your gut. If you get a bad feeling about someone, you are probably right.
Now its time to ask if your chosen contractor has a valid builders license. Are they insured? What about bonded? Bonding is an old practice that isn't necessary.
A lot of good contractors are insured but not bonded. For a contractor to be bonded they have to place a large sum of money in escrow. This is to cover you in case the contractor decides to skip town without finishing your project. There is a way you can accomplish the same thing without asking the contractor to tie up large amounts of money.
Phase one, initial deposit.
Most contractors will want an initial deposit before they start work. Negotiate with your contractor on the size of this deposit. It shouldn't be any more than 50% of the entire project. Especially considering you have already supplied most of the materials he needs to build your barn. Ask for a lower percentage say around 20%-30%. This should cover their labor to get started. One caveat, they may need more than that if they have to rent equipment or purchase concrete.
Phase two, in progress.
Once your barn has a good start and you are seeing good progress, you can give your contractor an in progress payment. This can be anywhere from 30% to 50% of the total bill. Make sure it is enough for the barn to be finished, but not the total balance. You need to retain enough to motivate them to finish your barn in a timely manner and on budget.
Phase three, project complete.
This is when you pay the balance remaining on your agreement. Make sure your barn passes final inspection from the building department. Inspect your barn personally as well to be sure that all of your needs have been met. Remember though if you ask for additional work that wasn't covered in your initial agreement expect to be charged for that work.
Choosing and working with the right contractor can be an enjoyable experience. Just remember to follow your gut instincts. Your insight will tell you a great deal about any builder.