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5 Tips for Hiring the Perfect General Contractor

April 15, 2022

Searching online for a general contractor could lead to an overwhelming number of options to sift through.

A wrong choice of a contractor could lead to delays, substandard work, or legal issues.

You can avoid these troubles by using these five tips to properly vet your candidates and hire the one who will deliver the desired results.

General contractor services and qualifications

When selecting a general contractor, you must do so with the job you intend to hire them for in mind because some contractors specialize in specific project areas, such as roofing or painting.

On the other hand, others are multifaceted in various areas and can assist you with multiple projects.

Regardless of the project you hire them for, the contractor gets tasked with providing the labor, equipment, and any needed materials.

In general, it is normal for contractors to offer services regarding new construction, renovations, remodels, painting, electricity, plumbing, woodworking, roofing, and flooring, to name a few.

When hiring a contractor to complete one or more of these projects, you will want to ensure they have the proper licensing and registrations to work on the project within the state you reside.

Also, confirm that they have the required documents and skills to complete the job. You can verify this by reading their customer reviews and ensuring they have experience with that type of project, as well as required permits, personal liability insurance, and property damage coverage.

You should be vetting these qualifications as a minimum before hiring a general contractor, but to ensure you hire the best, you should dig deeper into their work experience and work ethic.

Five tips to help you hire the perfect general contractor

You cannot rely solely on permits and licenses to point you in the direction of a quality contractor. Instead, use these tips to help you hire someone perfect for you and your project:

  1. Consider their reputation

Regardless of what you are hiring the contractor to complete, one of the most important things to consider is their reputation.

Find out what previous clients have said about their work, reliability, communication, and punctuality habits.

Having a clear answer for these variables will help you hire a stellar contractor. Once you have a few options, you can begin contacting them to interview them and learn more about what working with them would be like.

  1. Interview your prospective contractors

Any reputable contractor will understand how important your property is and will be available to answer any questions you may have. Should they refuse to answer your questions, it is best to move on to the next prospect.

While interviewing possible contractors, consider asking these questions to gain a better understanding of how they operate:

  • How many people work for you, and what does your company structure look like? – This question answers how big their organization is, indicating their experience and establishment as a company. Additionally, administrative personnel makes it easier to contact a member of the company than if there was just one point of contact.
  • How long have you overseen your crew? – This question helps you determine whether they have experience and a track record of being reliable over a long period.
  • Will you be using subcontractors on my project? – Ideally, the contractor you hire can handle the entire project using their crew. If not, it is important to ask the question to be made aware of who will be at your property and whether they have the proper licensing and insurance to be working on the job site.
  • Have you ever dealt with lawsuits? – There are multiple parts to this question. You must ask whether they have ever been sued, sued a client, filed a mechanics lien against a property, and if the company has had any severe injuries. Public records can always verify the answers to these questions, but they should give you an idea of their character and transparency.
  • How often can I expect communications from your company? – This question will shed light on their professionalism and help set your expectations for progress reports.

In addition to these questions, you should ask how your contract will look, who will be on your property, and how many projects the company currently has.

  1. Have a contract in place before starting any work

Contracts with contractors should be specific and include information such as the prices, the kinds of items to be purchased, an estimated start and completion date, and the finished drawings with specifications.

Many contracts will include allowances for items such as stating, “up to $400 for interior paint".

Having a contract in place before initiating any work will help ensure everyone is on the same page on all aspects and nothing gets lost in translation.

  1. Ask about a Mechanic’s Lien

There are mechanic's lien laws in many states that permit anyone who worked on or provided materials for a project to place a lien on your home if they haven't received payment.

At first, they may not cause much concern since you intend to pay the contractor, but if they fail to pay subcontractors or the lumberyard, you could be liable for the bill.

Before you pay the contractor, you can get them to sign a lien release, which will protect you from this situation. A contractor with good intentions is unlikely to have an issue signing the lien release.

  1. Know how much you should pay

For a contractor to require an upfront payment of more than 30% is unreasonable.

Generally, the upfront cost should be a third of the overall project cost. Since many contractors keep money in reserve for the start of the project, money from you to cover material costs may help.

Either way, you and your contractor should discuss and agree on a payment plan and be sure you both sign it in case of any future issues that may arise.

Also, be mindful of your payment method because if a contractor demands cash payment, they may have bad intentions. You can use business credit or a check written to the company, not the individual.

Ultimately, you want to ensure you can work well with your contractor.

At the end of the vetting process, you should feel comfortable and trust that the contractor will respect your property, treat you fairly, be honest, and complete quality work within the agreed-upon timeframe.

Properly vetting potential general contractors in this way will save you from the headaches of wasted time, wasted money, and damaged property.


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