Plan Ahead

August 2015


by Keith Wilder, CGP, CAPS


This month features the importance of planning ahead for your building needs.


Scenario: The kids and the grandkids have all gone back to school after an adventurous summer and Auntie May just remembered she has to get the siding finished on her barn before the snow flies. Auntie May decides to call me and ask if I can get the work done in time. This is what I am thinking…


Every year in October after the first freeze my phone rings off the hook from customers who say ‘I need to have a certain imperative project done before the snow flies,’ and every year most quality contractors are busy at that time. Homeowners need to plan their projects early for several reasons, and they are as follows:


• First, it’s best to start early to check references and licensing, plus the Labor and Industry website to make sure there have not been any liens or judgments against the contractor’s work.


• Second, it gives the homeowner time to conduct interviews with the contractors and get a range of bids for the scope of work.
• Furthermore, the owner has time to initiate and complete a review process versus a last minute frenzy which can open the door to uncomfortable variables, such as unsatisfactory work or incomplete work, and inevitably, these variables can equate to a higher cost in order to get the project completed correctly.
• Finally, and relative to my third point, homeowners who plan ahead most often receive a better deal.


Winter Planning


The best time to plan building projects is in the winter months when there is ample time to envision your projects and draw up your plans. When the snow breaks, which invariably transpires from March through May, the homeowner can be outlining the projected work desired, conducting interviews with contractors, checking references, getting bids, generating a cost analysis, and in multiple project cases, creating a project management schematic. When all these preliminary planning steps are in line by summertime – contractors are in high gear by July – not only does the project have the proper time to be completed, but it allows for any unplanned setbacks on either party’s part. Ultimately, the homeowner’s feeling of satisfaction tops the project when it is completed with expert craftsmanship and in time for winter.


On the contrary, waiting until the last minute can trigger last minute decisions, which can entail hiring a contractor who is not busy and usually there is a reason for that. This, again, can contribute to the homeowner satisfaction factor, unprofessional workmanship and/or possible increased prices.


Roofing #1 for Last Minute Calls


With my yearly last minute calls, the top contractor request has been for roofing. General problems people have are roofs that they know are leaky, but that haven’t leaked all summer, so it gets put on the back burner until a good rainstorm ensues late in the year. Then they remember that the roof has to ‘get done this year,’ but by that time most quality contractors are booked out until the next year.


This year has proven exceptionally well for all of the builders that I know, and every professional builder is busy working on a new house with one in the making after that. It hasn’t always been this way; sometimes there have been slower seasons like a couple of years ago. Now it’s picked up and a general pointer for the builders in the Tri-County region is to look at how Spokane is progressing in the building industry. It’s going very well right now and Tri-County is usually a year behind, so that points to local contractors staying busy through the following year.


Plan Ahead!


If you need to get a building project done, don’t wait, call today. I have lived in Northeast Washington for 28 years and it snows every year – sometimes a little and sometimes a lot – but it snows every year and you don’t have to wait until the signs show up. Winter is going to come. Most contractors in our area are general contractors; they do everything from concrete to siding and roofing. To find a contractor, you can check the phone book or online, but your best bet is to check with your local Home Builders Association at www.shba.com.