How To Choose A General Contractor

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When deciding to build or remodel a house, the most important decision that you will need to make is which contractor to go with.

We have all heard horror stories from friends and family about things gone terribly wrong with their projects, and the nightmare their contractor was. But it doesn’t have to be that way, if selecting the right contractor, your project can be truly enjoyable and painless.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when searching for a contractor to complete your project:

First, talk to your friends, family and neighbors; chances are they have had some experience in the matter and might be able to stir you in the right direction. Put a list together from those referrals, and that is your starting point.

Once you have a list you can begin doing your research. Start by calling the contractors and asking them some questions, such as:

  • Do they take on projects of your size?
There is no point on wasting your time, if your project is not something they can work with.
  • Is the general contractor licensed and insured? It is very important that the contractor be licensed and insurance for your own protection and peace of mind.
  • How long have they been in the business?  Experience plays a big role on how well they will execute your project.
  • Can they give you a list of previous clients? Reference is a good starting point; if former clients are happy chances are you will be satisfied as well.
  • Can they provide you with pictures of their previous work? A picture speaks more than one thousand words. Make sure you are happy with the type of work they do.
  • How long have they worked with their subcontractors? It is equally important that the subcontractors they work with be trustworthy.
  • Do they have a payment schedule signed by you prior to beginning the project? This will speak to their financial stability. If they ask for half of the total bid up front, it might indicate they are financially in trouble and therefore may not be reliable.

The answer to these questions will reveal a lot about the company and the contractor himself. A contractor should be able to answer all of your questions to your satisfaction. Communication with your contractor is of utmost importance; this person is going most likely going to be in your home every day for the few weeks or months in which they are working on your house. Not to mention that your house coming out to your satisfaction literally lies in the contractor’s hands. If the communication is not working well in the beginning, chances are that this is not the right contractor for you.

The second step is to do some research on the contractor.  Check the business’ website, Yelp and Houzz profiles which will usually include not only some of the contractor’s jobs as well as reviews by previous customers. You should also check your local Better Business Bureau as well as your local Contractor’s License Board.

Finally place a call to their previous customers on the list they provide you, and if possible ask to see the project in person. It is also a good idea to visit a current job site to see firsthand the cleanliness, and safety at the job site, as well as the workers and how they interact with the homeowner and their property.

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