Building your dream home is one of the most exciting things you'll ever do, but all that excitement comes with a lot of responsibility. If you're on the brink of a large home improvement project, major home repairs, remodeling, or a new construction project, you'll likely want to hire a general contractor.
Hiring the best general contractor for you and your project is an extremely important decision. That choice will determine the quality of craftsmanship and will minimize emotional stress and unexpected costs. Hiring the right contractor early in the design process is one of the most important ingredients in staying on budget and on schedule during construction. With the proper planning and a knowledgeable contractor, you can be assured of a job well done at a reasonable cost. Remember that home improvement or remodeling can be a fun experience for both you and your family. You should always choose the contractor you feel most comfortable working with.
Here are 10 most useful tips to hire the right general contractor for your project:
1. Know What You Want: Before you begin to search for a general contractor for your project, it’s important to know what you want. You should have a clear idea of what you want the end result to look like and a realistic budget of what you’re prepared to spend. A general contractor will be able to provide you with suggestions and ideas, but having a list of expectations will help you stick to the plan and avoid problems later on.
2. Get Recommendations From Your Friends And Family: Start with your friends and family and check if they have recently completed a home remodeling project. You can ask them for references and recommendations. People you know who have done similar projects are your best sources.
3. Interview General Contractors: Once you have found two or three contractors that seem capable of doing the work, you’ll want to interview them. Communication is the key in the home remodeling industry. A general contractor should be able to answer your questions in a manner that puts you at ease. You are advised to ask the following questions in order to know the general contractor’s character and the company’s availability:
· Are they willing to talk over the estimate with you?
· Have they worked on projects similar to the one you are proposing?
· Do they work with subcontractors?
· Are they willing to provide financial references, from suppliers or banks?
· Can they give you a list of previous clients?
· Are they working on multiple home remodeling projects at once?
4. Verify Licenses and Insurance: Make sure your contractor candidates are licensed and in good standing with your state license board. Ask to see the contractor’s pocket license, picture I.D. and certificate of insurance. Proper licensing demonstrates a company’s best practices management, but hiring a licensed contractor will also protect you.
5. Meet Face to Face: Based on your interviews, select 2-3 contractors to meet for estimates and further discussion. A contractor should be able to answer your questions satisfactorily and in a manner that puts you at ease.
6. View Recent Works: After verifying contractor's Licenses and Insurance, request them to visit few projects similar in size and style to yours. Try to check out one that was recently completed, one that's under construction and one completed five to 10 years ago. You can ask yourself the following questions:
· Does the work carry a warranty, and are problems corrected?
· How does the construction site look?
· Did the older finished project stand the test of time?
7. Get Quotes From Them: Feel free to ask the contractors that you’re still considering providing a quote for the project. The quote should include the cost of materials for the remodel, as well as a price for the estimated number of labor hours. You can ask each contractor to divide their bids into categories for easy determination of what you are really paying for. Keep in mind that the lowest option may not always be your best pick. Do your homework in regards to how much a remodel like yours typically costs. Be sure to take factors like experience and available work samples into account. Sometimes a larger upfront cost is worth it in the long run if it means a hassle-free transaction.
8. Understand The Contract: Once you’ve settled on the contractor that you feel is the best fit for your job, make sure to get the terms of their quote into a legally binding contract. Your contract should include detailed time frames, the total cost, payment arrangements, your contractor’s license number, project description, names of parties involved and how to handle additional costs if necessary. Keep track of all-important information as well by keeping job-related documents such as contracts, payments, and receipts in one place. Record key contact information for everyone working on your project. Keep in mind that true professionals will understand that having terms in writing will provide protection for you both.
9. Be Flexible to a Point: Unfortunately, remodeling will never be an exact science. Even the best contractors will sometimes run into unforeseen problems once they open up walls or in climate weather may slow down speedy progress. Homeowners should expect a little wiggle room in terms of budget and timeframe.
10. Think Locally: Area contractors who have been in business for a long time are usually reliable and safe bets for projects. If they didn't do good work in your community, they wouldn't still be around.