Things You'll Need
- Business Cards
- Obtain a business license and a builder registration number if one is required by the state in which you live. Also make sure you (and the subcontractors you hire) are covered by liability insurance.
- Compile a portfolio of your work that you can show prospective clients. You can present prospective clients photographs of your work--including work you have done on your own house, for friends, or work as a subcontractor or general contractor--or actually take them on a tour. Convincing someone of your ability to construct the building they have in mind is the first step in acquiring a job.
- Produce a building plan. Most municipalities require a plan to be prepared by a registered architect, due to the building codes involved. An architect is trained in building design and will foresee and resolve potential problems, and come up with a pleasing, practical and creative use of the space. The contractor usually cannot provide this dimension, since his job is building execution.
- Prepare a written estimate for the job, broken down by labor and materials costs. Typically, subcontractors are used for excavating, roofing, framing, electrical work, and plumbing and heating. Each subcontractor provides an estimate for his phase of work, and that amount is factored into the total. The cost of all materials used must be estimated, including everything from roofing to items as simple as switch plates. Labor for each worker should also be included. A well-prepared estimate will include an itemized breakdown of all the costs, with a total job cost tallied at the end.
- Meet with the prospective clients and try to win the job. The clients may have received other bids for the job. While some compromise might be possible, a basic rule for a contractor, is "don't lower your price simply to get a job." If a job is bid too tightly and one phase takes longer than expected or the weather doesn't cooperate, the contractor can end up paying the extra costs. By providing a detailed estimate and explaining charges to clients clearly, a fair and accurate cost for the job can be reached and a contract can be signed.
- Start the job. It's now up to you to coordinate all the aspects of the project so that work does not overlap. The sequence starts at the ground and works it way up: excavation, foundation, framing, mechancials (HVAC, plumbing, electric), shell plus windows, doors, siding, and roof. The interior work comes last. Each of these steps must be scheduled with individual subcontractors and integrated into the work flow. Managing your first job well will become an important resource and reference for gaining other jobs on your continuing journey in the business of building contractor.