When your building or association is faced with an exterior maintenance or repair job, it’s important that you don’t just hire the first contractor who comes along; carrying out your due diligence can make the difference between working cooperatively with a contractor to get the project completed on time and on budget, or winding up with partial or poorly-done work and a mess of legal problems after the fact.
Exterior contractors are a breed all their own. Those who specialize in masonry, painting, paving, heck, even the big dogs like architects and engineers, need certain qualifications in order to perform their work competently. A condominium or homeowners’ association board depends on these professionals, and cannot go into any project, half-cocked, without fear of betraying its fiduciary duty to ownership. This means that boards need to solicit multiple bids from vendors, thoroughly vet contenders before hiring, and stay on top of every aspect of a project as it progresses, lest something go awry. How does a board do this, exactly? Well, that’s what we intend to find out.
The credentials for exterior contractors differ from those required of interior contractors are primarily related to licenses, experience level, insurance capacity and a demonstrated safety program.
“The higher risks associated with exterior work naturally demands a higher level of scrutiny than simply accepting the lowest bid in response to a request for proposal for installing drywall or painting,” says Tim Hegarty, a partner with the Manhattan-based construction law firm Zetlin & De Chiara LLP. “Much like a surety that underwrites bonds for contractors, a wise board will desire and demand a proven track record with an exemplary focus on safety from exterior contractors in their particular area of expertise. In other words, a low-bid process is not the best way to select exterior contractors. Rather, qualification-based selection is more prudent.”