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June 17, 2002 8:41 AM CDT

How To Select A Quality Mason Contractor

By

Selecting a quality mason contractor for your construction project can be key to the success of your project. While some say that nothing you can do will assure you of a smooth construction project, there are several key items you can evaluate that will greatly enhance your opportunity of a smooth masonry portion of your project.

Contractor Background
Has the contractor done a project similar to the current one they are bidding on or is this a project they are unfamiliar with. Check the references of the contractor. Make sure that when you accept a bid from a contractor that they have the capability and means to complete the project.

Pre-Project Support
What type of support can a contractor provide for you? Is the contractor able to assist you in the design process? Having a contractor work hand in hand with the design aspect can help avoid unexpected costly designs. Often times there are critical elements that can be slightly varied to keep the actual construction costs down. The sooner a contractor is brought into the project as a partner, the sooner they can offer advise on how to save money and not ruin the integrity of the project.

Contractors Ability to Complete the Job
Does the contractor have the abilities to exceed the project requirements if needed? Is the project time sensitive? Does the project have intricate detail that could delay the progress of the project. You need to know that if the project runs behind, that you are able to rely on a contractor that can pull together their resources and finish the job on time. Selecting a contractor that just meets the requirements of the job will not give you the flexibility as changes occur during the project.

Bid Bonds
Can the contractor provide a bid bond? This requirement will often limit unqualified contractors. It also helps ensure that a contractor does not over extend themselves. A bonding company may question a contractor if they apply for more bonds than they can handle at any given time.

Submittal of scope
When a contractor submits their scope for your project make sure it includes everything that is included in the bid and more importantly, what is not included in the bid. Make sure that when comparing bids that the scope matches, if they do not, you will need to assess the added costs of using the lower bidder.

Staffing On Site
What type of supervisory staff does the contractor provide? How many superintendents do they have on site. These people are critical to the quality assurance of the project. What type of experience do these superintendents have? Are superintendents required to inspect critical areas on the project such as flashing that will insure the integrity of the project.

Safety & Quality Assurance Programs
Does the company have a safety and or quality assurance program. Contractors are required by OSHA to have a safety program in place. A quality assurance program may be as simple as having a check list for superintendents to inspect work on a daily basis, or may be as elaborate as three binders full of expectations and quality control checks and balances.

Training Programs
What type of continuing education programs does the contractor offer their employees and themselves? Do they attend seminars that bring them up to date on new techniques and equipment? Are there refresher seminars on proper techniques such as head joints and wall ties? Are they involved with and learning from other contractors in their own field? Are they able to make contact with contractors who have done similar work and ask questions and share experiences?


About the Author

Jeff Buczkiewicz is the President and CEO of the Mason Contractors Association of America. Jeff has worked in the masonry industry for several years as the Executive Vice President of the Building Stone Institute and the Director of Marketing and Membership for the Mason Contractors Association of America. Jeff has also served as Secretary on the Board of the Natural Stone Council and is a former Board Member of the StonExpo Federation.

 

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