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How do I find a competent, affordable contractor?

Start with your list of needs, wants and donít wants. You can develop a list of questions that will help you interview and select contractors. Then begin asking other farm owners for referrals. Horse related construction is a specialized business and most farm owners are more than willing to share their stories with you, both good and bad. You can check out local classifieds and small publications. Check the bulletin board at you local feed and tack stores. Many national magazines also offer advertisements for builders or prefabricated structures. Always check references.

Questions to use in checking references should include:

  • Did the contractor complete the project in a timely manner? If not, why?
  • Did the contractor stay within the budget? If not, why?
  • Did the quality meet your expectations? If not, why?

The "why" part of the questions is important because you want to understand if the situation behind the "why" was really the fault of the contractor or if it resulted from things beyond their control.

When interviewing contractors, it is of utmost importance that you are clear about what is included in their price. Unfortunately, not understanding clearly and completely what they are buying catch many people. Many barn-building companies, for example, do not include site preparation, utilities (water and power) or the finish components (rubber mats, tack room paneling, etc.). Be clear about whether or not they include permits and inspection fees. Does the price include sales tax?

Contractors should be licensed and bonded. Also ask about their insurance coverage and limits of liability.


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