How to Hire a General Contractor
General contractors often promise the world, but not all professional construction companies are created equal. Look no further! Consider this your intro class to hiring a residential general contractor that will help you turn your remodeling dreams into reality.
Look for a contractor.
There are about a billion resources (“about” being the key word here) for finding a GC in your area. From basic Google searches to checking out Houzz.com (a sort of social networking site for all things remodeling and home design) to the good ol’ fashioned yellow pages – the options are limitless. My suggestion, however, is to ask friends, family, coworkers, and even enemies (okay, maybe not enemies) to see if they’ve done any remodeling lately and/or if they have someone they would recommend. That way, you get a name of a specific person or company to look for (rather than just Googling “remodelers near me”) and you can ask the referring party for a first-hand review of their experience with their GC. Two birds, one stone. However, if no one you know has anyone worthwhile to suggest, the internet is a great resource.
Research, research, research the General Contractor you want to hire.
This is the most critical step, in my opinion. Hiring a general contractor means, at some point or another, letting someone into your house (sometimes with their own copy of your key) and giving them your money – that’s kind of a big deal. Don’t just hire someone because you like their website or you heard one good review. Ask your prospective contractor for references, go to see a finished project (bonus points if you ask to see an in-progress job site!), check out reviews on every reviewing site you can think of. When it comes to background checking your GC, less is never more.
Critically examine the contractors bid and contract.
At this point, I’m assuming that you’ve already met with your prospective general contractor and talked them through your scope of work. You’ve gone through any necessary design work, and you’re ready to meet with them to review their pricing, specifications, contract, and whatever else is a part of their bid package. If the price is right, you might be ready to hop on board then and there! Not so fast. Take at least a day on your own to go through every detail of their bid package.Ask yourself some important questions: Is this a fixed price bid or cost plus? Are there any allowances you should be aware of? Is there any sort of contingency fund or general conditions in case of emergency? Do you truly understand every line item in their bid? Next, review the contract. How are change orders handled? Is there a warranty involved? How do they plan on invoicing, or will there be a draw schedule? Is there a required deposit? I think (hope) this goes without saying, but if your prospective contractor doesn’t have a formal bid and contract, I would seriously suggest looking for someone else who does.
Say, “I do.”
Finally! You’ve officially found your Mr. (or Mrs.!) Right and you’re ready to commit to a lifetime of love, respect, and remodeling. Okay, I may be getting away from myself here. My point is, the research period is over, and it’s time to get to work! Of course, your (yes – your) GC may have a couple more steps they’d like to compete before work can officially begin (for example, some contractors require all selections to be made before ground breaks; others just have busy schedules and will want to fit you in at a certain time to make sure your project gets the attention that it deserves), but all in all, the hunt is over. Time to let your general contractor do what they do best – remodel!
We can’t stress doing your homework enough, make sure before hiring a general contractor to check out third-party homeowner review sites like Houzz or Angie’s List.
For more information on Luster Custom Homes and Remodeling, check out our Frequently Asked Questions.