Hiring a Contractor

Contractor - Santa Cruz CA

Selecting Your Builder

Every project needs a builder.  Only licensed contractors may work on your property without you assuming great risk in case anyone is hurt.


California classifies contractors into three categories, A, B, and C.  An A contractor is called a “General Engineering Contractor,” and they typically build public works like roads, dams, etc., not typically buildings.  B contractors are called “General Building Contractors” — these are the people who are in charge of getting buildings built.  C contractors are “Specialty Contractors” — they work for (or under) General Contractors, therefore, they are called “sub-contractors.”  For instance, these include carpentry contractors, painting contractors, electrical contractors, roofing contractors, and so on.  These “sub-contractors” employ the workers that swing hammers and install products on your job.

Roles of The Players

Roles Contractor - Santa Cruz CA

The General Contractor may be compared to an orchestra conductor, while the subs would be like the individual musicians playing the music.  In this example, the Architect’s role would be to write and arrange the music.

Competitive Bidding vs. Negotiated Contract

On a big commercial or government project, the Architect is paid a large fee to create extremely comprehensive drawings and specifications.  These lengthy documents are then used for competitive bidding by a number of Contractors, in an effort to get the lowest bid.  Unfortunately, this system can promote an adversarial relationship between the Owner and Contractor.  This method isn’t the best way to build your home.

Bidding or Contract - Santa Cruz CA

Homes are of course personal, and clients like to be involved throughout construction, so for this, we like to see a method called a ‘Negotiated Contract’.  With a Negotiated Contract, the Owner pays the Architect a smaller fee than with competitive bidding, because the documents can be streamlined, with just enough information for permitting and to tell the Contractors what needs to be included.  Big jobs must have all the fine points spelled out completely in the documents, while in the small project using a Negotiated Contract means that many of these details can be worked out during construction in field meetings between the Owner, Architect, and Contractor.  With this method, employing a trustworthy contractor is key.

We Can Help

Help as Contractor - Santa Cruz CA

We’ve been in business locally for almost forty years, so we’ve seen some good (and a lot of bad) Contractors.  We don’t want to choose your Contractor—that selection is up to you.  We are general contractors as well as architects, however, we are comfortable working either way, as the Architect only, or as the Architect/Builder.

Accessibility Santa Cruz Ca

Our Design Philosophy

Schedule a Consultation Now!

Make an Appointment

Posted in
Avatar for Bill Fisher

Bill Fisher

Bill has practiced environmentally sensitive modern architecture for over 40 years throughout the west. Bill's firm, William Fisher Architecture, has studios in Santa Cruz and designs residential, commercial, industrial, and institutional projects of all types and sizes.

Recent Posts