Contractor Forms – The Construction Professional’s Essential Documents Checklist

Like all specialized industry professionals, contractors in the Building Trades require specific forms and documents to keep their business running smoothly, ensure their operations are legally protected, and all contractual obligations are faithfully discharged.

No matter how big or small a construction company is, there are certain forms that every contractor must have and use in order to do business effectively.

Here is a checklist of the most important contractor forms and documents required:

Bid Form
- form to define and present the contractor’s bid on a job.

Estimate Recap
- an Estimate Recap sheet to help spell out the job.

Construction Contract
- full Contract for all construction, home and property improvement projects.

Service And Repair Contract
- shorter contract, suitable for all Service & Repair jobs under $750.

Attachment-A, Description Of Work And Materials
- contract attachment describing work and materials in detail.

Attachment-B, Allowances
- contract attachment specifying allowances.

Attachment-C, Notice of 3-Day Right To Cancel
- Three-Day Right To Cancel notice and cancellation form.

Change Order
- comprehensive Change Order form. These documents attach to and modify your contract.

Change Order Log
- worksheet to keep track of all the Change Orders on a job.

Owner Consent To Subcontract
- form giving Owner consent to subcontract a portion of the job.

Subcontractor Agreement
- contract between Contractor and Subcontractor.

Project Startup Checklist
- detailed checklist for starting up a project.

Schedule Sheet
- individual scheduling for each job aspect.

Finish Schedule By Room
- details schedule for Finish items, room by room.

Daily Construction Report
- track daily items and subcontracts progress, site conditions.

Daily Equipment Report
- track daily equipment usage and rates.

Daily Material Report
- track daily materials usage, delivery, quantities, location.

Daily Work Sheet
- track all daily cost aspects of the job including conditions, employees, materials.

Notice Of Intent To Stop Work
- notice to owner and financing company of intent to Stop Work.

10-Day Stop Work Order
- statement of Stop Work.

Release Of Stop Work Notice or Notice To Withold
- document to release Stop Work and resume job.

Final Project Punchlist
- final checklist, with owner item signoffs.

Project Closeout Checklist
- detailed checklist for closing out a project.

Job Invoice
- invoice detailing work.

Lien Waiver – final payment
- Unconditional Lien Waiver on final payment for the job.

Lien Waiver – progress payment
- Unconditional Lien Waiver on partial payment for the job.

Depending on the size of the contractor’s business, many other specialized forms and documents may be required for each job and daily operations. Also, local ordinances may require specific documents for each job or particular aspects of a job. But at the very minimum, this checklist will ensure the construction contractor can keep the job straight, the books straight, and the legal behind covered.

You will find all of these contractor forms, plus over 120 more fully customizable professional construction business forms and contracts, available for immediate download at Contractor City’s Builders Bookshop.

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Construction Business – Keep it Booming When Times Are Slow

As any construction manager or general contractor will tell you, finding enough work during a slow season can be a difficult process. While it’s always a good idea to have a website in this day and age, when slow times hit, a website isn’t the only way you can use the Internet to generate business. Here are a few tips for generating more construction business from online.

Advertise On Social Networking Sites

You may have dabbled with the idea of advertising your services online, and maybe you’ve even gone so far as to get an ad on a search engine or other similar site, but have you thought about throwing some ads up on a social networking site? Social networking isn’t just for tweens and teens, or even college students anymore.

Recent studies show, for example, that the fastest growing group of people on Facebook are women ages 45-65, with the second fastest growing group being women over 65 years of age. Of both men and women on the other hand, the largest growth demographic over 2008 was 35-54 year olds. These are big numbers for an age group with homes and money, who could be calling you up for home renovations, construction projects and the like.

Website Discounts

Another way you can generate more construction business from the Internet is to simply offer discounts or specials for those who choose to contact you, or book you through your website. At the very least this provides more people with an incentive to visit your website and see the range of services you provide. The more often your website is visited and talked about online, the higher it will rank on search engines and the more traffic it will generate. This means that more people know about your business and will be more likely to contact you.

Bid On Construction Project Auctions Online

Over the past ten years there’s been an explosion of popularity on sites where goods and products are auctioned off. Many construction managers and construction business owners are getting involved in auctioning sites geared specifically towards you industry. It’s a fairly simple process: you go to a site auctioning construction contracts, home improvement, and remodeling projects. Register and build a profile for your company (or yourself), then bid on any projects that are posted that catch your attention.

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They Don’t Build ‘Em Like They Used to! Women Who Project Manage Their Home Construction

It’s well known that project managing the construction of a home will save you money – and give you more decision making control. What is less widely known is that many successful project managers are women – who have no construction experience whatsoever.

My company has been selling cedar homes for 18 years. Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to work with all kinds of home buyers. Their backgrounds and experiences are as varied as the houses they build. However, I’ve noticed that the women who elect to project manage the construction of their homes share similar characteristics that uniquely qualify them for the job.

What women lack in home construction knowledge, they more than make up for in natural curiosity and organizational skills – or as some prefer to say, “multi-tasking abilities.” Anita Legaspi and her husband Ray (neither of whom had construction experience) built a 3,600 sf custom cedar home near Lake Stevens, WA about 5 years ago. At the time, Anita was a stay-at-home mom who enjoyed sewing and Ray was employed at Boeing. They realized early on that “they could get more house for their money if they did it themselves.”

Of the pair, Anita had more time available to organize the project and research their options. She realized that her experience with soliciting items for school auctions would also be helpful in obtaining subcontractor bids for their home. “I wasn’t afraid to talk to people and ask questions. I had the ability to communicate on the phone,” commented Anita.

With the help of a timeline (outlining tasks and deadlines), Anita obtained bids and contracted out: the foundation, shell construction, electrical, plumbing, roofing and deck installation. Anita, Ray and their son Christian did much of the painting and finish work themselves.

Anita admits that the time spent building the home was difficult for their family. Ray and Anita chose to live onsite by utilizing their small trailer and a camper. She remembers the initial fun of “camping,” complete with bonfires (to burn up the stumps) and hot dog roasts. However, the summer fun dissipated when wet weather set in. Ray and Anita realized that their trailer was becoming more claustrophobic than cozy – and it wasn’t very well insulated..

Looking back on their house building days, Anita offers this advice:

Decide what’s important to you. If you really want that special kitchen – go for it.
You can never go wrong with quality.
Develop a cost breakdown sheet to help you compare bids and expenses.
Big name companies don’t always offer the support you’ll need. You need to be able to communicate with a dealer, subcontractor, etc. You should feel like you can call them any time.

Nancy and Paul Davis knew that they wanted a cedar home for their mountain retreat near Cle Elum, WA. Neither Paul nor Nancy had bought property before and the whole process of developing the property and building a home was new to them.

In an effort to learn more about the process, Paul and Nancy attended a Log Home Seminar and also researched companies and products on the internet. According to Nancy, “The seminar was good for us. It brought up all the things we hadn’t thought about.”

Prior to staying home with their son Cory, Nancy had been a foundry supervisor and had also worked in a human resources department. She knew a few things about interviewing, hiring and managing people. She also knew that if she and Paul were to build the cabin themselves, “it could take years!” Their solution was to put Nancy at the helm and have her manage the construction of the cabin.

Paul and Nancy elected to undertake the finish work themselves, but hired separate subcontractors to handle the foundation, shell construction, electrical, plumbing and roofing. At one point, Nancy put together a work party with three girlfriends. Together they installed the wood flooring in the great room and kitchen. However, Nancy noted that this was done “only after we had dinner out on Friday night to discuss our approach – and of course, a great breakfast with lots of chit chat before we actually began.”

A low point for Nancy came when she was the only person onsite and “the cabinet people dumped all our kitchen cabinets right in the middle of our driveway.” It was up to Nancy to figure out how to get them all inside by herself. Nancy called for back up and said, “I had to be really assertive, which is totally out of my personality.”

Today, the Davis’ are very proud of their 2,300 sf cabin retreat. “We knew we could do it with the support of knowledgeable people in the industry.” Based on her recently acquired construction management skills, Nancy offers the following tips:

Find your own system to stay organized. Nancy used a notebook divided into tasks, i.e. electrical, plumbing, and roofing, etc.
Network with other people within the construction community and seek their advice
It’s OK to be assertive – especially when you are trying to track down answers and make decisions.

“Everybody is blown away by how beautiful my home is,” says Diane Weibling who project managed the construction of her own 1,200 sf cedar home in North Bend, WA. For ten years, Diane, a family support worker for the Seattle public school system, read “how to build your own home” books at the North Bend library. The librarian finally told her she was going to have to stop reading and start building her own home. And that’s exactly what she did.

In addition to her library research, Diane attended open houses and talked with other homeowners. She says that the idea of project managing the construction her home evolved slowly. “I felt like if I wanted it done right, I’d have to do it myself.”

She obviously did a lot of things right. Her home has a panoramic view of Mt. Si – in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. People drive slowly past her home so that they can appreciate her unique setting and beautiful home.

Diane took time to look for bargains on cabinets and appliances for her new home. She said, “I got all my solid maple kitchen cabinets for $1,200. Someone had ordered these and never picked them up. I went to the Sears Outlet and checked out their scratch & dent models. I bought a fridge with a broken plastic handle that I easily replaced. I bought a demo wood stove at the fair and saved $600.”

Her project managing experience has taught her a few more things, including:

Try not to micromanage the subcontractors. It’ll drive you (and them) crazy.
Ask the builder how many projects they have under construction. It may mean they won’t have blocks of time to give to your project – and this could extend your timeline.
Ask for contractor prices

Each of these women brought unique skills to their home projects – none of which was a background in construction. What motivated them to manage their home construction? Certainly money was a factor. By project managing the construction of their own homes, each woman realized many thousands of dollars in savings. The savings could result in a lower mortgage payment – or it could mean having a larger home for less money – or both! In some cases, project managing is a way for the homeowner to maintain more control over all aspects of the home’s construction.

Project managing home construction is not an option for everyone. The state of Washington allows homeowners to serve as their own general contractors (or project managers) – but not all states will permit this. Bear in mind also that not all banks will finance owner-built homes. Lastly, remember that when the plumber doesn’t show up on schedule, you’re responsible for keeping the project moving forward and on budget. Some subcontractors are aware that your home is a one-time project for them – whereas a contractor will be calling them for other jobs in the future. This may affect the quality and timeliness of their work which in turn may adversely affect your timeline and budget.

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How To Save Money on Construction

Here are 10 simple ways to save money on your construction project, be it a small renovation/remodel or building a new house.

1. Set a Budget! It is important that you control costs. The best way to do this is to start with a, “not to exceed number,” set down on paper and in your mind. You can get a rough estimate of the cost of construction that you want done by searching the internet and talking to contractors. This will give you enough information to set your rough budget.

2. Add 20% to your budget to be used for unanticipated costs which you will label your,” contingency fund.” This total should be the final amount you will pay under any circumstances. Make this number work for you and do not release any part of this money without carefully exploring all alternatives.

3. Decide how you want to proceed, either acting as your own contractor doing all of the work yourself, or, do some of the construction yourself and subcontract some parts such as Electrical and Plumbing, or, hire a General Contractor to handle the project you decide to build. This is your first opportunity to stay within your budget and reduce your construction costs. You do this either by negotiation or competitive bidding. You can further reduce costs by furnishing some, or all of the materials.

4. Material Costs- Once you have determined what you will be building and the method you will use to get the work done, a material list will be needed to enable you to go shopping for the best prices. Here is an area where you can reduce costs by comparing prices, for example; between your local lumber store and home depot. When you make this shopping list be sure you are pricing apples to apples and oranges to oranges and that the quality of the material is roughly the same.

5. Material Substitution- There can be substantial savings by substituting top of the line material with lower priced products. You do not want to get carried away with this approach by going to the very bottom of the quality barrel. You need to consider how long this product will last and how good it will work for you over time.

6. Building Permits- There really is no good way to get around permits and associated fees without taking the risk of an inspector coming around at a later date and making you take part of you building apart, to enable the inspector to determine that the materials and installation conform to the local building codes. They have the authority to do this in most areas of the country. You do not want to make the mistake of starting a building project without having a permit from the local authorities along with the required inspections or you might find yourself having to take apart and redo some of the work.

7. Insurance- Yes you do need insurance coverage while your construction project is being built. Check that any contractor you hire has insurance prior to signing any contracts. Your homeowners insurance may protect you for uninsured workers on your house, but check to make sure you are covered and if there will be an added cost. If there is an added cost you may want to bid this out, but as I mentioned earlier, when taking bids make sure you are comparing apples to apples and oranges to oranges.

8. Legal- If you are going to be signing contracts, you should seek some legal advice regarding any contract before signing. Lawyers should be shopped for price and quality prior to agreeing to use their services. Here is an area you can save money. Careful shopping for an attorney will get you good advice at the lowest possible price.

9. Contractors- I could write a book about working with contractors as there is a large diverse group out there and they all want your business. My uncle Harry was a purchasing agent for a large corporation and his criteria was, “Quality, Price and Dependability.” This is a very good rule and it requires you to do some investigative work by checking references and reputation before engaging. Once you have determined the contractors you would like to have, allow them to give you a competitive bid or negotiate the price of the work. This is a critical time for adjusting the costs to conform to your budget, and for saving money.

10. Starting the Work- This is where you can prevent extra charges to your construction project by scheduling the work to enable the different crafts to be on the job when they are needed and not when they cannot do the work because of someone else’s unfinished work or lack of materials. If you are furnishing the materials, to save money, you will need to ensure that they are at the project when needed by the craftsmen or face additional charges when they must come back numerous times.

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How Can Construction Estimating Software Help Increase My Earnings?

For a construction project to be successful, there is a massive amount of planning. There is a laundry list of matters you must take into consideration and supervise all together, like budgeting, construction delays, construction estimates, scheduling and hiring, and material accessibility and prices. A sophisticated construction estimating software program will assist you with all of these concerns.

Prices for Material

For people who don’t use a software system to assist them with their construction business, they have to search for material costs in books. New editions of these price guides are released on a standard basis because of the constant changes in market fluctuations. This means that you have to always purchase the most current version.

If you get construction estimating software, the costs are updated by the minute. You won’t have to hunt down and buy price books, and you never need to waste time as you look for some microscopic number in a giant index; you can find the up-to-the-minute market cost at the click of your mouse.

Making Schedules and Hiring

You can utilize your construction estimating software program to keep track of big-time contractors. Pay special attention to which ones are maintaining the deadlines and known for outstanding work. Then you can get a good idea of which contractors are best to employ on jobs in the future. Before you know it, you can make a great name for your company by establishing a highly dependable and efficient team.

Construction Bidding

Correct residential bidding is no effortless chore. It is challenging to gather the information and create a correct estimate – you need one that is low enough to guarantee that you obtain the job but high enough to create a profit. The most crucial component of creating the right bid is maintaining data records from previous projects so your estimates can be more exact on potential projects. You must measure the results and record them if you wish to prepare a winning bid on prospective tasks.

You can quickly produce an accurate estimate if you utilize construction estimating software. First you merely type in the data from former tasks, and then the software will prepare a proper estimate for you. It will calculate the potential postponements and consider the present-day material prices. It will even advise a rate per man-hour for installing and include a recommended work crew.

There are too many contractors who overestimate bids and lose them to a competitor; there are likewise too many contractors who underestimate projects and end up owing money. If you want to head off either one of these outcomes, you ought to invest in a superior construction estimating software program.

Check out Christopher’s new book “The Secrets of Making Money On Every Job… What Every Contractor Needs to Know to Thrive”. It covers construction estimating tips, tools and techniques as well as ways you can improve your marketing and sales. It’s available on Christopher Carpenter is the developer of LiteningFast Estimating. LiteningFast is an estimating program that helps you estimate faster, easier and more accurately. It’s integrated with QuickBooks to provide job cost.

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