Ten Tips for Hiring a General Contractor

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Hiring a General Contractor for your home renovation or new construction project can be a daunting and confusing endeavor. But armed with the proper knowledge, you can narrow your choices and make the right decision.

General Contractors vary wildy in size and function. The larger GCs are paper-only companies, which means they don't actually execute the work, but rather hire subcontractors to perform the tasks of each trade (e.g. framing, plumbing, electrical, etc.). Many smaller GCs do the framing, carpentry and some even do the finishing work and painting, but they subcontract the electrical and mechanical trades.

Most of the larger GCs don't typically contract with individual homeowners. They usually contract with real estate developers and commercial organizations to build many structures in a single contract.

Don't assume that a larger GC is going to do a better job than a small GC, however. Large GCs typically do the bare-minimum to satisfy Code requirements, where many smaller GCs are more quality-oriented.

That being said, here's a few tips to help you single out the right General Contractor for your project:

  1. Do they have a strong online presence? Check if they have a website, social media page(s), etc. Do they engage with their customers on social media? Are they frequently active? Doing this will help you weed out fly-by-night companies and outright frauds
  2. Do they have any verified reviews on sites such as Angie, Google, Yelp, etc. Positive reviews are a good indicator that they generally do a great job
  3. Are they licensed and insured? A general contractor typically must hold a license with the local or state government to perform work on behalf of a client. They should also carry standard $1,000,000 general liability insurance. You can ask the GC to have their insurance company issue you a Certificate of Insurance (COI) directly to you
  4. Don't be afraid to ask for references of previous clients. They're, of course, only going to send you references of good work they've performed, but they should be able to provide at least three
  5. Check their website for the types of services they provide. Not all GCs do the same work. Some do only new construction houses, some only do remodels. Make sure they have the experience and resources to complete your project.
  6. A well-organized and professional GC should send a proposal outlining the work to be performed, including a detailed line-item breakdown of the cost (e.g. rough framing, electrical, plumbing, heating & cooling, finish carpentry, roofing, siding, windows, drywall, painting, etc.). If the proposal just says: we'll build you a house... move on!
  7. A proper proposal will also contain a legal contract and disclaimers. It's important to read these and perhaps have them reviewed by a real estate or contract lawyer. If there is no legal language in the proposal/contract, then find another contractor
  8. Ask your GC candidate if they provide any guarantees or if they warranty their work. It is industry standard practice for a contractor to provide a 1-year limited warranty for materials and labor
  9. A good General Contractor will also be able to give you a hard date for the completion of work and a basic schedule of phases, e.g., rough-in completion, HVAC, plumbing, electrical, finish work and final completion date. They are legally-bound, in most contracts, to meet these deadlines, with exceptions such as supply chain issues or issues beyond their control
  10. This perhaps, is the most important: a good contractor will be easily reachable by phone, email, text, etc. GCs are extremely busy people and may not answer right away, but they should return your call at least by the end of the day. It is a good indicator that a GC is stretched too thin or over-worked if they don't return calls or emails in a timely manner, and may not be able to complete your project likewise.

Some of these tips are not so easy to discern based on initial contact or Internet research. That's why we advise asking for references. You can ask the references if they've met the above conditions before making your choice.

Lastly, the best deal is almost never the cheapest price. Get at least three proposals from three different GCs. The best deal should be a combination of provable quality results and a good price.

If you're currently looking for a GC and wan't to see what we're about, please Visit our Website.

Let's get started! Contact us for a free quote on your next project.

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