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The PermaPanel — Affordable New Construction in Tri-Cities Washington

tri cities washington home with permapanel


You can expect the PermaPanel building system to save your new home construction in Tri-Cities WA anywhere from $10,000–$40,000—and that’s against traditional stick-frame construction.

See, about half of the price of building a home (or any structure for that matter) is materials. Here’s an article detailing how you can save upwards of 40% when building your home. For many homes—that’s a savings of over a $100,000.

Build your affordable, custom Tri-Cities home today! Contact us to see our showroom and to see how the revolutionary PermaPanel System works.


Four Tips for Hiring the Best Tri-Cities Home Builders 

Over the years we have worked with hundreds of different contractors, both subs and GCs (general contractors). The companies have ranged from multi-million dollar conglomerates to one-man shops. Some have been locally based, like in the Tri-Cities, and others travel from various places throughout the nation. They have ranged from highly professional builders to downright criminal. 

We’ve learned a thing or two when hiring contractors, and share four tips on how to find the best ones in your area. 

(We’ll just lump subs and GCs all under the category of “contractor” and “builder” to answer the important question of how to find the right ones.) 

The three main pillars of project management are: scope, schedule, and budget. These pillars are across the platform and are relevant under most disciplines, not just construction. The best contractors not only understand these three traits, the best contractors have internalized them. 

We also have added one more “pillar” to the mix, and it is a trait we like to find in contractors: creativity. More on that later. 

Safety is often considered another pillar, especially when working for the government, but for our purposes today we include it under scope because unsafe working habits and conditions are counter to scope. Safety is integral to scope. 

The Interview

When you want to land a new job, why does the potential employer conduct interviews? They simply want to select someone who has the right skill set and personality fit for their company. Why then, do so many new homeowners fail to interview the contractor(s)? After all, the contractor is responsible for what will likely be the most important financial investment in these people’s lives. 

Interviewing your Tri-Cities home builders is the first step to selecting the best one for your project.

Some contractors are either too busy or too, well…cranky to go through the interview process; this is a BIG red flag. If the contractor is too busy for you or too arrogant to answer your questions, it’s almost a guarantee they will be a problem when working your project. But remember, they are (or should be) busy, so be respectful of their time. 

It’s a good idea to ask for references of similar projects. However, references are not always practical because a) it takes a lot of time to call the references and b) many building owners do not want to be bothered answering questions about their home to strangers. 

So if references are not an option, a compromise can be to have them provide project summaries and/or pictures.  

Tip 1: Look for Home Builders Who Understand Your Scope

Scope can be defined as “what you are wanting done.” Are you renovating a kitchen, adding a new bedroom, or building a new house?  

What you are assessing with scope is does the Tri-Cities contractor have the skillset and experience to complete your project? Will they be safe? And will their work be to your standards? 

Here are some questions you can ask your prospective contractor to get a feel for how they will do in regards to Scope.  

Has the contractor completed any projects that are similar? 

Has the contractor completed any projects that are more complex? 

When was the last time this company had an accident? How severe was it? Why did it happen? 

What steps have they implemented to avoid accidents on your project? 

Who will the project manager/foreman/supervisor be? What are their credentials? 

Does this person annoy you? Can you picture yourself working closely with this person on a regular basis? 

What will be the top two or three most challenging aspects of this project?  

Will there be any specialized equipment needed? 

How important is keeping the project clean and clutter free to the contractor? 

Where will they stage the project? 

How big of a crew do they anticipate needing? 

What do they expect from you, as the new homeowner, to complete their scope? 

What is their process for closing out of a job? 

What permits and inspections do they need to meet? 

Do they take pictures of their work? How do they document their progress? 

Are they licensed and insured? For big divisions of the project, are they bonded? 

Tip 2: Select Contractors Who Consistently Finish On-Time 

One of the biggest complaints of new building owners is how long their projects get dragged out. If you were told in the summer that you could move into your new home before the holidays and by February you still are living in a rental, then you’re justifiably pissed. 

Missing milestones and completion dates are not only frustrating, they can be costly too. Home builders in the Tri-Cities who cannot make progress milestones will certainly miss the completion date. However, a contractor that gets started late because certain tasks had to be completed by another contractor prior to them starting will automatically push the completion date back. 

Here are some questions you can ask your prospective builders to get a feel for how they will do in regards to Schedule.  

How long will the job take? 

If a particular timeframe is important to you (such as getting into your house before Christmas), have you conveyed this to the contractor ahead of time?  

How many other projects will they be managing at the same time?

How many projects do they complete on time? When was the last project they finished that went over schedule and why? 

Do they make time to answer your questions? If not right when you call, will they set up a time when it is convenient to go over your questions? 

How will they convey to you when a milestone is in jeopardy of being missed? 

How busy are they? Is there a better time in the year for them to work on your project? 

What do they need completed before they can start on your job? 

What happens if they go over schedule? 

Will they provide you with a detailed schedule? (We don’t always require a schedule, but requesting one is a great way to ensure they have thought through the project. You have to wonder how well a contractor can complete your project on time if they don’t even know how to organize a schedule.) 

Do they call you back when they said they would? (It’s very telling when a contractor does not call you back; it’s almost a foreshadowing they will not finish your project on time.)

Tip 3: Hire Contractors Who Keep the Project within Budget 

In another article we wrote about setting up Firm Fixed Price (FFP) contracts. This is our preferred method of contracting. A FFP contract essentially means that the contractor is responsible for all costs, outside of any unforeseen conditions. Most budget concerns and overruns can be eliminated by the FFP process. 

When you create your budget, it is smart to include a contingency line. Contingency is typically 5-10% of the expected cost. (Much more than that and you have not done a thorough enough job planning your project.) We have heard that some banks even require a contingency so that they can be sure you have budgeted enough money to complete your project instead of leaving it unfinished. 

Larger construction firms usually limit or even eliminate contingencies altogether, since these firms have years of expertise, buying power, and dedicated staff on board to manage all phases of the project. Moreover, the contingency line makes them uncompetitive in the bidding market. 

There is another critical aspect to the budget you will be assessing, and that is does your prospective contractor have the financial solvency to finish your job? There are many horror stories of companies that go bankrupted….after you paid them and before they have finished your job. 

As with scope and schedule, here are questions you can ask to help determine if your Tri-Cities home builders will keep the project within budget.

How much will the project cost? 

Do they know you will be soliciting at least three other companies? (See this article here where we discuss the importance of three bids.)

How many projects have you kept within budget? 

What was the last project you did that went over budget and why? 

What happens if they go over budget? Again, if you are working on a FFP basis, this is less of a concern since all changes to the scope must be approved beforehand. 

How often do they expect paid? 

Have you discussed all desired upgrades to your project BEFORE the contractor has submitted their budget? 

Can they afford to buy the equipment and materials themselves or do they require you to purchase for them? 

Are there any areas where you can save in cost? (Contractors are often the best ones to ask if you are trying to bring the cost down.) 

If you are concerned about their solvency, you can ask to see a balance statement. (This is common practice in government and commercial contracting.) 

Tip 4: Seek Creative Contractors 

Construction is an exercise in problem-solving. Because of this, we prefer to hire contractors who think outside the box. This is especially true when working with our PermaPanel system. While the PermaPanel is intuitive to use, it is the mindset of some to never try anything new, even if it means there is an improvement. 

There aren’t very many questions you can ask to determine one’s creativity. But there are some sings you can look for that indicate they are.

Do they ask a lot of questions about the project, or about life in general? 

Do they appreciate beautiful things such as a sunrise, the ocean, the forest, and mountains? 

Are they a little different (in a good way) than normal? 

Do they embrace change or avoid it? 

Do they get excited learning about something new? 

Do they have any examples of something creative they have done? 

There you have it, four great tips for hiring the best home builders in the Tri-Cities, WA. Assembling the right team for your next project makes all the difference.