5 Tips For Choosing Your General Contractor

October 9, 2017

General contractors.

Most in construction would call it a love/hate relationship. Just like general contractors need consumers to help them make a living, the consumer can’t always live without the direction and knowledge of their newfound best friend for the next four-six months.

As most people would agree, biting the bullet and deciding on your construction plans can be one of the toughest decisions you will ever make. But, it’s the job of the general contractor to make it as easy as possible for you and those involved with your construction plans, to find a stress-free environment when building your custom project.

That is why I have put together a simple list of five takeaways that you can use to help find the perfect general contractor for your construction plans. Whether it is a screened porch, renovating your home, building a detached garage or new construction, this list will help you finally “bite the bullet” and help to get that project on the road to completion.

1. Ask if your contractor is licensed, bonded and insured.

This should be a given. But, some general contractors are not insured or even hold a current up-to-date license which can make for a HUGE struggle and turn into a mess…quick! Once you have found a legitimate contractor who has a license, ensure that they are bonded to protect the consumer if the contractor fails to complete a job, does not pay for permits or fails to meet additional financial obligations (supplies, subcontractors or damage at the jobsite).

For a quick and easy reference, ask for the contractors license number and look them up online at the following state resource: https://nclbgc.org/search/license

Plus, signing on the dotted line with a contractor who has an insurance policy provides you with the peace of mind if something goes awry with the company or your project. Don’t be afraid to ask the general contractor for current copies of his insurance policies to make sure they are current.

2. Do they have quality reviews?

Online presence alone should tell you the WHOLE story of the general contractor you are looking to hire. But, to go a step further, check for quality reviews and referrals listed online. Quick tip, if the reviews don’t provide enough information, then I recommend contacting the contractor personally and asking for 3-5 previous clients who would willing to share their personal stories and experiences.

FYI, look for reviews like these on our home page.

3. Go Local

Local contractors are always recommended. Find a general contractor who is within an hour’s driving distance and have them provide you with an estimate. The closer the contractor is to your project, the more likely they are to stop by every day, check in with the team on site and get involved. Contact your local chamber of commerce, check with local businesses and start inquiring about the level of involvement the general contractor has in surrounding communities. The more they care about their community, the higher the chances are they will care about the quality of your project.

4. Sign a Contract Before Any Work is Completed

Before you start, make sure there is a detailed contract that covers all costs. Including the number of items being installed, approximate start and finish dates and the complete set of drawings that will be used for written specification of your project.

Signing a contract with your contractor helps set the expectations for the project. From the colors of the walls to the type of sink you want, this document will be a life saver ($$$). If there comes a time when there is a slight disagreement or misunderstanding, always refer to the signed contract.

Signed contract = no surprises.

5. Meet in Person. Go for Coffee. Get a nice meal.

While all of those things would be nice, meeting in person is a definite must! Meeting with your contractor will help set the tone of the project, establish the professional relationship between you and the contractor, all the while creating an opportunity for discussing the project status. From start date to the finish line, it is always wise to meet with your contractor at least once a week to ensure that everyone is happy and being provided with the product satisfaction that meets the $$$ they are spending.

I hope these five simple tips help when you are deciding on choosing your general contractor. Let me know what you think by sharing, commenting or providing some even greater suggestions!

Thanks for reading.

Until next time.

Ben Carroll
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