Sure, you may enjoy working on a home-improvement project to make changes and updates to your home. However, there may be times when the work you want to complete exceeds your skill level or even the time you have to devote to each project. When this situation occurs, it’s time to hire a general contractor to step in and take over.
Hiring a general contractor isn’t the same as finding someone to mow your lawn, though. The renovations and improvements you make to your home can have a long-term effect on your home’s value and structural safety. You’ll need to do your homework before you entrust your home to a general contractor.
1.What is a General Contractor?
When you have a large renovation or home improvement project, a general contractor would be the person responsible for managing and overseeing the entire project. This person will purchase materials, hire subcontractors and oversee the various crewmembers to ensure timely and quality completion of the work. The contract you have with the general contractor will include payments that he will use to pay his subcontractors and material suppliers.
With a general contractor working on a project, all the management and organization of the job starts and stops there. If you have questions about any aspect of the project, the general contractor should be able to provide the information you need.
2.Benefits of Hiring a Professional
Life gets hectic and harried with juggling your professional and personal responsibilities. You want your kitchen remodeled, but who has time to devote to managing this project? Now you see the benefit of hiring a general contractor to step in and manage your project for you. Also, with a general contractor’s professional experience and knowledge-base, he’s able to handle the project much better than you could.
3.Skills and Experience
It’s essential that a general contractor possess sound business skills enabling him to manage a work project and the many details involved. A contractor must be able to maintain schedules, manage personnel and keep track of supplies. Many of these skills come from hands-on experience working in the field of home renovation. A general contractor with years of experience will typically have the knowledge and skills necessary to oversee a home improvement project.
4.Meeting with Prospective Hires
Meet with several different general contractors, prior to hiring one. It’s important that you have a face-to-face conversation with several individuals to give you an opportunity to form an impression of each person. Provide the contractor with details about your project and give each contractor an opportunity to inspect the job site. Ask questions about experience and specific jobs performed. Find out about various subcontractors the general contractor prefers to use for construction projects.
5.Personality and Presentation
The personality and presentation of the general contractor should be professional and courteous. He should be able to answer your questions and provide information about his experience as it relates to your project. When you show him your plans and the actual work area, the contractor should appear confident and knowledgeable about the work you need and the required process to be completed.
6.Researching a Contractor
Ask for references from any contractor you are considering. A reputable contractor will be able to provide a list of positive references. Once you get this information, contact the previous clients to inquire about the performance of the general contractor. Ask specific questions regarding management, workflow, timeliness of the project and the overall impressions of the contractor. Visit homes where a contractor has worked to see the finished results of his projects.
Call the Better Business Bureau to find out about complaints lodged against the contractor. You can even search the Internet to find evidence of issues or problems from previous customers.
7.A Word about Price
While it’s tempting to choose the contractor with the lowest price, this may not be the wisest choice. General contractors with less experience may submit a lower bid for your project, but hiring a more experienced contractor might be the better option. When you receive bids for your project, read them carefully to learn exactly what you’ll get for the stated price. A reputable and experienced general contractor will submit a complete bid that covers everything included in the project.
Home improvement scams are everywhere, so make sure you don’t fall victim to an unscrupulous general contractor. Never pay a contractor money up front to purchase supplies, especially if you don’t have an ironclad contract that covers the entire project. Another scam involves presenting you with high-quality materials for a project and then purchasing lesser-quality materials instead. Make sure you inspect everything carefully to ensure that the materials used for your project are the ones you purchased. Any subcontractors hired by the contractor need to be highly skilled professionals as well, so clarify subcontractors for various work involved with the project.
9.After the Project
After the work completes, the general contractor has some remaining tasks to complete the project. Make sure he finishes all remaining cleanup work to finish the job. The contractor also needs to pay all subcontractors to conclude their service on the job. In addition, the general contractor has the responsibility of handling necessary inspections to guarantee that the project complies with local ordinances. Any aspects of the project that don’t pass inspection will be the contractor’s responsibility to correct.
If you want to streamline the process of hiring a general contractor, let Pro Referral make your project more manageable by submitting a work request. You’ll then receive a list of possible contractors who fit your project. Each Pro is background checked and licensed and insured so that you can hire with confidence. Read the customer reviews, credentials, and business profiles of all of our Pros and let a qualified professional turn a difficult project into a completed one!
For additional tips on finding and hiring a quality general contractor, see our article on How Do I Find a Good General Contractor?