What To Expect from Your Architect: Selecting a General Contractor

By on January 15, 2015. Posted in , .

What To Expect from Your Architect: What Questions To Ask a Contractor?One of the most important components for a successful residential architecture project is the selection of a General Contractor. I’m pretty sure the Schematic Design meeting in which we present our initial designs to our clients is the most highly anticipated, but trying to find the right General Contractor to build your home is surely right up there.

The Contractor Selection phase – the Bidding Phase – usually takes place after the Construction Document Phase, when all the drawings and specifications have been documented. However, we prefer to bring a contractor on board early in the design process.


We believe assembling our team while we are still developing our design allows us all to focus on one goal: to give the client the home of their dreams.

This post is the 9th in our What to Expect from Your Architect series written to provide insight into the process of working with an architect to design and build your home. We are documenting the progress of one of our contemporary residential projects, the 018 House, so you’ll know what to expect every step of the way. Currently we are in the Design Development Phase of the project and have put the project “out for bid” – meaning we have sent design drawings and specifications to a few contractors and asked them to provide their cost to build our project.

How To Select a General Contractor:

We like to assist our clients in the selection of a General Contractor as much as possible; we know it is often a daunting task. As a residential architect I am generally more familiar with this process than my clients, but it is our clients who need to like and trust the person or team they select to build their home. As we’ve mentioned before, selecting the right architect for your project is the most important decision…but creating the right team is critical for a successful project.

What to Expect from Your Architect: Selecting a General Contractor
Creek House by Studio MM

How Do You Find the Right General Contractor for Your Project?

For the 018 House our clients compiled a list of about 10 General Contractors. We recommended a couple of local contractors; they got referrals from friends and/or neighbors for a few; and they wrote down names from other homes they liked in the area that were under construction.

What Questions Should You Ask When Selecting a General Contractor?

Our clients asked for some guidance on what to discuss during an initial meeting or phone conversation with a contractor. We created a list of questions which we emailed them along with an explanation of each one. It is important that our clients understand what and why they are asking so they can control how the meeting goes and make sure all of their concerns are addressed.

For example, How many projects do you have going right now and how many project managers do you have working on them? You want to know who is going to be working on your project, how often that person will be at your site, and for how many projects he is responsible at one time.

We also sent our clients a link to 10 Questions to Ask Potential Contractors, by Anne Higuera- a very good article outlining basic questions for selecting a contractor – with a further explanation into how each applied to their project specifically.

Our clients met with almost all of the General Contractors on their list. After meeting with all, they narrowed down the list to 4 and together we met with each of them and their teams. This was a multi-day meeting for us. Day one was spent meeting separately with each, going through their experience, how they work and a little about how we would all work together. The second day was spent touring their projects – some under construction and some recently completed. I have to commend my clients – all 4 contractors they selected were ones I would have certainly chosen to work with myself.

We are currently in the bidding process for the 018 House and are excited to see how it plays out!


To learn more about What To Expect from Your Architect: Follow our progress since April 2014 here.


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