If you are considering hiring a general contractor for a project, you may feel overwhelmed by the number of contractors you need to choose from. If you are not looking for anything complex, you might be tempted to hire the first contractor you come across, but hiring the wrong contractor could lead to a lengthy and expensive headache. Here are the eight things you should remember when choosing a general contractor for your project.
8 Tips on how to Choose a General Contractor
Here are the top 8 things you should keep in mind when doing your due diligence as a homeowner watching for the right signs with contractors
1. Meet with General Contractor
Based on your research from interviews and online, pick three or four contractors who seem to be a good fit for your home improvement project. These people should communicate with you in a manner that puts you at ease. Tom says it’s crucial to get along with whoever comes into your home for hours at a time. On the other hand, don’t let these people fool you with their personality; check in with local municipalities and business ratings to make sure they have no history of disputes regarding the completion of projects or problems with the payment of subcontractors before hiring someone because they will be in your home for hours at a time.
2. Payment Process
When looking to hire a contractor, you should remember that finances are one of the biggest concerns. Many engineers worry about getting paid enough and believe that asking for more upfront is the best way to guarantee they will be paid for the work provided. If a contractor asks for half their payment upfront, you can feel confident in saying no. You must review your budget with others involved, so everyone is on board before signing anything.
Before your contractor begins their work, sit down to talk about payment options and your budget. As the industry is not regulated, many general contractors have different service prices. However, even if it’s a few thousand dollars, don’t pay in cash. Instead, please give them a check or credit card; or arrange to finance more extensive projects. If they ask you for a cash payment instead, be wary – it could be a scam.
It’s also common to make a down payment before the project starts. The laws vary from state to state, so contact your state authorities if you’re unsure how much money can legally be requested as part of a down payment.
3. Get A Project Plans & Bids
You have your short list of contractors whose resumes look genuine and whose work portfolio shows that they consistently deliver outstanding results. Warn them that you’re ready to stop looking back at the past and start focusing on how you want your remodeling job implemented. You will need a fair cost breakdown for their services, including materials, labor, overhead costs, and profit margins. On average, it may turn out that textiles make up 40% of any project’s total cost while overhead makes up the other 60%. Be sure to ask everyone to prepare detailed quotes.
4. When You Taking A Decision
Before you sign anything or make any commitments, get multiple offers. It is vital to ensure you get the best value for your money. We know it’s tempting to want to be quick about things when there is an emergency. Still, you must take the time and space necessary to ensure you are making intelligent decisions regarding your expenditures. Read contracts carefully if at all possible, considering every word in each clause before committing your signature.
Never underestimate the time-consuming nature of a home improvement project, so try not to rush them; otherwise, you may end up paying more than what was initially discussed with your contractors.
5. Check Insurance
Make sure the contractor has all the proper documentation. Ask for a certificate of insurance (COI), which will show details of their public liability insurance, including their insurer’s name, policy number, and minimum indemnity value. You can then contact their insurers to ensure the policy is still valid and active. Please don’t do business with contractors who won’t provide evidence that they are adequately insured. If they are not guaranteed, you may be liable for accidents taking place on your property.
6. Your Rights to Cancel
Some laws govern contracts. Some laws regulate the cancellation of goods and services bought. Make sure you know your rights regarding canceling goods or services if you change your mind after a contract has been signed. Within a given period, the amount of time depending on the state or federal law, you will be able to cancel without penalty if you inform the service provider about it in writing. When notifying them about the cancellation, we highly recommend using registered mail as it offers you proof that the item was sent and when it was received by another party (the business being canceled from).
7. Job File
A change order is a notice issued to the contractor indicating that the owner has requested specific changes in the contract, such as design modifications or additions. It is also essential to keep all of your supporting documentation in one place alongside any plans and blueprints and invoices/bills and receipts for repairs/supplies and any correspondence with the contractor.
8. Negotiating the Contract
A written agreement signed by both parties is the final formality in hiring a contractor. It must discuss the equipment and materials required and demolition and clean-up aspects. The start date for work and an estimate for when it should end are also vital points to be considered.
Take care also to ensure no surprises or loopholes in the contract for your business. After all, agreements benefit both parties, so do propose any changes if necessary. Make sure you do a lot of research into all the areas needed for renovation and reflect this in the contract once negotiations are complete so that you can analyze specific items while adhering strictly to the latest legal guidelines.
Begin by listing all materials and supplies as well as the services involved for you to be able to determine necessary sizes and quantities accurately. Then work out a clear payment schedule to pay for the project in stages throughout construction. Limiting your down payment should be done, and ensure that no large upfront requirements are requested because it can delay your building plans.
Summary of Choosing a General Contractor
When choosing a general contractor, it’s always a good idea to do your homework. Not only do you want to verify the contractor in question is thoroughly licensed and insured, but asking for references and examples of past completed projects from previous jobs is also an intelligent start. Being thorough will instantly make you feel more confident in moving forward with your general contractor, so don’t hesitate to ask questions later.
Getting a home improvement project under a budget can be challenging since many factors affect the total cost. Understanding the difference between being billed for project costs plus a percentage versus a flat fee is essential. When billing costs plus a rate, general contractors let you know what the material and labor costs will be but also add a 15-20% fee for their service. In contrast, with a flat-fee bid, you’re informed of exactly how much you’ll owe for labor and materials without any hidden surprises when it’s all said and done.
In either case, the key is taking enough time to understand what you’ll have to pay when estimating your projected budget to ensure that neither party ends up paying more than they were expecting.
Before hiring anyone to work on your project, ensure everything is covered in their initial agreement. You should also keep a record of your payments and copies of the receipts in case there’s a dispute about any material costs or services covered under the contract. Last but not least, taking periodic photos can help you later on when it comes to documenting the progress of your hired party towards meeting their obligations.
When considering how to attack the many household projects that need attention, ensuring you have the proper professional working on your home is always helpful. If a do-it-yourself aspect of tackling needs around the house is something you’re interested in, a local handyman can help speed along repairs or home maintenance jobs and save you time and money.
However, if a significant remodeling project needs to be undertaken for your home to return to its original state, then hiring a licensed general contractor with experience with large-scale building projects may be the way to go.