Hiring the right general contractors is a must when it comes to any construction project. As you plan for your next renovation, you want to make sure that you vet for the quality of their work, how they proceed with the project, and even how they ensure the quality of their craft.
If it’s your first time renovating, it’s likely that you don’t have any idea how to pick the right contractor for you. Here are 8 ways to find the right general contractor and tips on how to vet for the best one available.
Your first move is to get multiple estimates from several general contractors in your area, especially if you want someone to manage your construction work. Having several estimates gives you a better chance of getting a good contractor, as assessments provide a detailed checklist of what you can expect.
1. Get Multiple Estimates
The estimate should contain several pertinent details, including estimates on quantity take-off, labor hours, labor rates, material prices, material costs, equipment costs, and even subcontractor quotes. This much should help dictate in which areas you can save money and how fast the contractors can do it.
You want to get estimates from at least three contractors as much as possible. This way, you know you’re getting estimates from different companies.
2. Ask Questions
When interviewing contractors, it’s important to ask the right questions. These can help you gauge how good a contractor they are and ensure that you’ll get a good contractor.
We’ve listed a few critical questions that you should ask any general contractors. These include
- How long has the contractor been in business?
- What is your process for hiring subcontractors?
- How will you manage your team?
- How will you handle emergencies?
- How will you handle change orders?
- What is your experience with these types of projects?
- What is the estimated timeline for the project?
- Can you provide the necessary permits and licenses?
The goal is to find a general contractor that ticks as many boxes as possible for your requirements. If you have custom requests, make sure to inform them of that too and put everything in writing.
3. Check the Reputation of the Contractor
When vetting a contractor, you must look first at their reputation. This can help you discover whether you can trust the contractor or not. There are several ways to confirm their reputation, most of which you can access online.
For starters, check reviews online. If you check the contractor’s profile, check for any history or complaints they may have in the Better Business Bureau (BBB), Yelp, Angie’s List, and any contractor review sites.
Although this does not help you get a complete picture of how the contractor works, you can learn how they handle things without directly asking the contractor themselves. It’s also ideal for getting recommendations from people you trust. This can help you narrow down your search to contractors who have worked for others you know.
4. Check For Insurance
Another vital thing to check is insurance and how they’ll cover liabilities in case of accidents or a bad installation. Check to know if the contractor has insurance that covers their employees and the materials they use. This can save you from a lot of trouble if an accident happens, and a worker gets injured while on your property.
Also, check to see if the contractors have general liability insurance. This covers any damages or losses from the contractor’s negligence. One common issue among contractors is their bonds and insurance coverage, which is something you need to verify before you even hire them.
Look for their certificate of insurance, which should have their policy number, name of the insurance company, and the limits of their policy. It’s best to contact the insurance company first and talk about the limits of their coverage for the company.
Even if a contractor is licensed, it doesn’t mean that they have the necessary permits and licenses to work on your project. Some contractors may try to skip this step, but this can end up costing you more in the end. Just make sure that the contractor has proper permits and licenses before you give them the go-ahead.
5. Discuss Payment Options
Another important thing to discuss with your contractor is the payment schedule. You want to know how much to pay them upfront and how much of your payment is deductible. Aside from that, inquire about their payment terms.
Most contractors ask for a down payment of 20 to 25 percent of the total contract amount, with even as much as 30% for smaller jobs. This way, you don’t have to pay anything until the project is complete and vetted. The contractor should also provide you with a copy of their contract, including their payment terms.
You may also choose to pay in installments, but you should keep in mind that the contractor is entitled to charge interest if you pay in installments. Whatever happens, it’s crucial to never pay by cash. Pay through a process that leaves a paper trail, whether it’s a credit card, cheque, or bank deposit.
6. Get Everything in Writing
Before you sign any contract or even give them the go-ahead, make sure that everything is written in writing. This includes all timelines, schedules, and payment schedules.
Again, everything should be written clearly and concisely. Don’t accept vague responses from contractors, as this can lead to a lot of confusion. You want to avoid scenarios where contractors say one thing and do another.
You should also get everything in writing when it comes to warranties and guarantees and how the project will be completed. Getting everything in writing also ensures you have something to fall back on if anything goes wrong. This way, you can ensure that you’re protected if the contractor becomes negligent of their responsibilities.
7. Review the Contract and Ask for Proper Documentation
At this point, you should double-check the contract and ensure that you understand it before signing. Ask the contractor to provide a copy of their contract, including their payment terms, the scope of work, and the breakdown of costs.
The way the contract is written can indicate how the contractor handles the project. If it’s a contract that doesn’t clearly state their payment terms and work breakdown, there’s a good chance that they’ll charge for extras, including additional expenses. It’s best to avoid this by asking for a contract copy in writing.
8. Obtain The Right Permits
It’s also a good idea to get permits and licenses from your local government, especially if you don’t want any surprises in the future.
Permits and licensing are important because they give you the assurance that the contractor has all the requirements that they need. Without a permit, you risk being fined by local authorities.
Check with a local building department to ensure that you’ll have no problems later on. Some contractors may try to skip this part, but this can lead to delays and additional expenses for you.
Finding the right general contractors for your project can be a lot of work. Finding the best general contractors is no easy task, but it’s worth it. With a good general contractor, you can ensure that your renovation will turn out the way you want it to be. Check out these tips to ensure that you find the right general contractor for your next project.