Any building job or renovation job that exceeds $1000 in material or labor costs, or requires a building permit will require a contractor’s license. A licensed general contractor is equipped with the knowledge and training to do the required job.
According to most homeowners, the toughest part of a home renovation project is not the renovation itself, but hiring a reliable and competent contractor to get the job done. It truly is quite a task to find the right contractor especially with all those stories of contractors scamming house owners or ruining the house altogether. A licensed contractor is, nevertheless, vital for your building needs for a number of reasons:
A general contractor serves as a manager for renovation or building projects. They hire subcontractors for specialized tasks such as rewiring the house or installing new countertops. Moreover, they also ensure that most paperwork such as obtaining permits and licenses is taken care of, and that the deadlines and budgets don’t exceed.
To make sure you get the right person for this important job, there are a few things that should be kept in mind.
Don’t jump right into talking to the contractors and getting estimates without first being clear about what exactly you want yourself. Have a concrete idea or plan for your project as you set out looking for the right licensed contractor for it. If you’re specific and detailed in what exactly you want done and the materials it might require, you’ll get concrete estimates from the contractors.
Ask for recommendations from those who have undertaken a successful renovation project in the recent past. Since people in your neighborhood are bound to have properties to your own, you should start by asking them who they contacted for the task. Next, you could even ask your family and friends for a candid review of their contractor. Talking to a building inspector in this regard can also be helpful as they can tell which contractors frequently meet code requirements.
Start off by conducting phone interviews. Conduct at least 3 interviews and get written bids from every single contractor to thoroughly compare the bids before you make a choice. To ensure that you’re comparing apples to apples, make sure each bid includes the same materials and same tasks.
Get as many bids as you can and don’t stop at one even if you think that you have found the right contractor. This is because interviewing contractors will teach you something new every time. When making that interview call, be sure to ask the following questions in your interview.
The afore-mentioned questions will provide you information on the contractor’s reliability, availability, and the extent of focus and attention they will give to your project.
Once the phone interviews are done, you should be able to shortlist 3 to 4 potential contractors for your project. Meet them face to face and ask questions to ascertain their suitability for the job. Among other things, ensure that the contractor is a good communicator as they will be at your house for long hours and must understand what exactly it is that you want.
Also, find out what work will be done by the subcontractors and what the contractor’s employees will do. It is advisable to ask for an employee list to ensure that the contractor is not hiring unprofessional individuals to get the job done at low prices. Moreover, ask for a copy of the contractor’s license and that of his major subcontractors.
Now that you’ve gathered enough information about the contractor through interviews and meetings, it’s time to do some fact checking and research. Ring former clients and survey the sites that they’ve previously worked on to get a truer picture and to ascertain the things that they’ve told you.
You should also verify their licenses and check complaints and litigation history. Local court records and disciplinary boards will help with that. Moreover, you can visit the contractor at a current job site to get a live picture of how they work. This will provide satisfactory answers to a number of queries and concerns such as the level of safety and cleanliness of the site during projects.
By now, you will have decided on a contractor for your project and received bids. While you should not hesitate to negotiate before getting everything down in writing, do not allow price to be the primary guiding factor either. You don’t want a contractor to be cutting corners around the job. When all the little details are sorted, get everything in writing and sign a contract to bind the deal. Make sure that the contract is detailed and elaborate noting down everything that needs to be done and even details such the materials to be used or where will the materials be procured from etc.
To sum it all up, the right general contractor can be the difference between a successful project and a disaster. When a lot of money and a thing as dear as your house are involved, it is always painful to see the project go awry. Therefore, keep the above tips and guidelines in mind whenever you’re looking for a licensed general contractor for your house. Additionally, if you’re looking to buy or sell a house, you can acquire our dedicated services to make the whole process seamless for you.