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How Do I Choose a General Contractor?

How do I choose a General Contractor?

A General Contractor is the project manager for construction projects. A General Contractor who is not experienced in doing the construction work himself is at the mercy of any sub-contractors used on a project, particularly with regard to the materials and techniques used. While a General Contractor's name is on the work, sub-contractors are generally unknown to the client and have no vested interest in providing the best possible result for you. They want to finish the project as quickly as possible and get to their next job. If a General Contractor does not have experience knowing the proper way to do things he is unable to ensure the work is done correctly and risks an unhappy client.

Get quotes for your job from multiple contractors. Write up exactly what you are wanting to have done and give it to each contractor bidding on the job. Examine their quotes carefully. Be sure the different contractors are quoting the exact same project so you can easily compare them. Does it specify what is to be done and does that agree with what you want? Does the quote give you a list of materials to be used, including brands where appropriate? Check with Consumer Reports and see what they have to say about the brand. There are many, many ways a contractor can cut corners, so ensure the scope of the job is the same and the materials offer the quality you're looking for.

Look for a General Contractor who is capable of, and experienced in, doing the work on your project himself. Ask for references from previous clients, particularly where the client has 'lived with' the work for a while since problems arising from 'short cuts' do not become apparent immediately. Ask how much of his work comes from previous clients, either repeat work in their own home or referring their friends and family. Find out how busy he is currently. A contractor who can start on your project tomorrow is generally available for a reason. Good General Contractors are usually busy from word-of-mouth referrals and are worth the wait. Your home is a huge investment and you will be living with the work for a long time. Choosing a General Contractor who can start tomorrow and do the job for the least price may very well leave you regretting your choice for many years to come.

Finally, check with your Better Business Bureau. Is this contractor/company registered with the BBB? For how long? How many complaints have there been and what is their overall score? Is the General Contractor insured?

Remember, the project you are planning will 'be there' long after the General Contractor leaves. Make sure he does the work you'll want to live with.

Contact us if you want to know more.