How to Choose the Best General Contractor: A Complete Guide by P+P
Published on August 7th, 2020
The decision to make your home remodeling dream a reality is an exciting time. Your newly designed bathroom or freshly renovated kitchen can drastically improve the quality of your life and even increase the value of your home.
Hiring the right person for the job is no easy task. Home improvement is a stressful process, even when you get it right. Inviting a team to spend months in your most intimate spaces where your friends may not even typically go can be extremely invasive. Making sure you find a general contractor you can trust is of the utmost importance.
Investing the time to do your research before starting the project will not only benefit you during it, but well after its completion. Avoid the headaches we’ve all heard by following our pro tips for hiring a reliable general contractor.
Clearly Define Your Project
Start with a vision. Before even approaching a qualified contractor in your area, it is crucial to have a plan for your space. What are your goals for the project? Spend time thinking about what you want your remodel to look like and the amenities that may entail. Nail down the specifics before beginning the hiring process in order to streamline communication.
Referrals Reign Supreme
Now that you have the vision of your project clearly defined, its time to pick up the phone. But not to contact contractors just yet! Don’t be shy about reaching out to friends and family who have had similar work completed in their homes. Be sure to ask them:
- What work did this GC (general contractor) do for you?
- Did the workmanship meet or exceed your expectations?
- Was the job completed within budget?
- How many change orders (work that needed to be performed outside of the scope of the project) were necessary?
But most importantly,
- Would you hire this contractor again?
Utilizing your inner circle is a powerful tool in your search for the best GC. Speaking with people you already trust will likely lead you to a trustworthy contractor.
Supplement this research with a review of the contractor’s portfolio. Look for examples of finished projects similar to the work your remodel will require.
Check, Check, Check
With a few solid referrals under your belt, it’s time to check the facts. Narrow down your search for the best GC with a check of their credentials. Are they licensed, bonded, and insured with general liability as well as workers compensation? Unfortunately, accidents can happen on the job and you want to make sure adequate coverage is in place.
A thorough background check is also essential in your search for the right GC. Make sure licenses are current with the state contracting board. This is a bare minimum benchmark for someone who is committed to their business.
Ask for local references that you can reach out to with the same questions you posed to your friends and family. Investigate online reviews of the company, how long they have been in business, and whether any formal complaints are pending. Research now so you can relax later.
Communication Is Key
You’ve narrowed down your vision, sifted through referrals, and did an in-depth dive into the contractor’s credentials. What’s next? It’s time to get to know your short list of GC’s so you can determine who is the best fit for you.
Setting up interviews with your contractor candidates will allow you to gauge their personalities. This person and their team will likely be spending months in your home. It is important that you can connect in order to build a solid foundation, whether you are breaking ground or not (pun intended!).
We believe that it is all about the relationship. The best general contractor will listen to you carefully. Do not be afraid to ask tough questions. How will unexpected issues, like change orders, be addressed? A reliable general contractor understands that it is his job to inform and educate the client. You will quickly be able to tell if this is the case by speaking with them.
“Communication is the most important because you are relying on this person to interpret your vision,” says Project and Property President, Daniel Tanner. Relating on a personal level is necessary in order for the GC to be able to bring your dreams to life. You cannot expect quality workmanship from someone who is not willing to create a relationship with you.
Consider having them out to the job to really evaluate the dynamic of how you get along. Their pre-construction behavior is indicative of what will occur post-construction.
Get It In Writing
With a fine-tuned short list of potential GC’s, you’re now ready to secure bids for your home improvement project. It is recommended to get at least 3, but do not stop there if it takes more in order for you to feel comfortable. You want to be able to get an idea of price range and identify the outliers. Then you will be able to make the decision based on other areas, such as communication and creativity.
We understand that price is probably one of the biggest deciding factors, but it is important to bear in mind that you get what you pay for. Price reflects quality and experience. It should not be your guide to determine who is best for the job. You spend day after day in your home and want to make sure you are surrounded by high quality, custom work.
Your itemized bid needs to be as clearly defined as possible. There is no room for ambiguity here. It should include: the GC’s license number, names of all parties involved, a thorough project description, detailed timeframe, the cost of materials, labor, and equipment, a payment schedule, and a clause addressing how additional costs will be handled.
Any area that is not clearly defined in the proposal could result in an additional charge. You must be sure that the scope of work is properly communicated and expressly written. What’s included? What isn’t? Asking these questions now will prevent any surprises later.
This will allow you to narrow your search for the best general contractor significantly. Was the GC listening and did they interpret your vision based on the picture you painted in your interview?
The transparency of the proposal will establish a level of trust. This is of paramount importance on your journey to making your remodeling dreams come true.
Go With Your Gut
You now have the pieces to evaluate the project as a whole. Relationship, price, timing, and attention to detail are all important factors in choosing the best general contractor to remodel your home.
But what about the unspoken? Going with your gut when it comes to choosing the best contractor will benefit you in the long run. This project requires your emotional and financial involvement. You need to be prepared, and the right contractor for you will do everything in his power to make the process as easy and painless as possible.
Trust your intuition to help you find a general contractor you can trust.
Project & Property would love to discuss bringing your vision to life. Please reach out to Daniel & the team to explore your next remodeling plan. We look forward to hearing from you!