Tuesday, February 22, 2011


The thought of hiring a General Contractor for your next big home improvement project can be daunting and overwhelming to say the least.  What you need is someone who does quality work in a reasonable amount of time, and has a thorough understanding of exactly what you are looking for.
Here are a few tips to help you out when selecting a potential Contractor.  Whether it be to remodel a kitchen or bath, or build your next custom home, it is vital that you do the research regarding the contractor and make sure they are top of the line in every aspect possible!

1) Start with Good Candidates

This is by far one of the most important steps when thinking about selecting your General Contractor.  No one wants to pay more than they should for home repair but don’t just open up the phone book and pick the cheapest option.  Price is just one part of the equation so basing your decision on that alone is setting yourself up for failure. Instead get referrals from people that have hired contractors for similar projects and were pleased with the work.  If you don't know anyone who can refer a reputable contractor to help with your project, look for contractors who offer a reference list.  If you don't personally know someone who can vouch for a contractor, it is important to speak with a past customer or client who can.   

2) Get Multiple Estimates
Now that you have a short list of qualified contractors, the next step is to have them check out your specific project and give you an estimate of how much time and money it would take for them to complete it.
Often times we’re eager to get started so if the first bid you get seems reasonable and you like the contractor you may be tempted to just go with the first estimate.  Just remember, it’s in your best interest to take the extra time and get at least two estimates.  Getting multiple bids allows you to not only compare prices, but also a chance to meet a representative of the company first hand.  Are they on time?  Are they knowledgeable?  Is this someone you can potentially see yourself working with in the future months to come?
 NOTE****Make sure when you are comparing your multiple estimates that you are comparing apples to apples.  A lot of times companies will bid the bare minimum in order to win the job and then kill you with change orders down the road.  If something seems too good to be true ... It usually is!
Tip #3 comes in handy here to make sure you ask a lot of questions and know exactly what is being bid.

3) Ask a Lot of Questions 

When the contractors come out to give you an estimate make sure you are present and prepared to ask questions.  The more questions you ask, the better idea you’ll have about how much it will cost, how long it will take, and how much experience they have.

The thing about kitchen remodeling, bathroom renovations, new construction, or any project is that at the beginning you and the contractor probably have a different picture in your head about what the finished product will be.
The more specific you can be, the greater your chances of getting an accurate estimate and something that fits the picture in your head.  Both you and the contractor bring many different assumptions into the project so the more questions you ask the more surprises you can avoid and the more details you can hammer out.

4)  Choose Wisely
  • Communication:Do you feel comfortable asking your prospective Contractor for details? Do you feel the contractor is listening to your wants, ideas and desires for your project? Your home is one of the largest investments you likely will make, and remodels/repairs/upgrades are costly ways to improve functionality and increase your home’s value. It is critical that you feel comfortable talking to your Contractor of choice.
  • Experience:How long has the contractor been in business?  Construction is a very competitive industry and companies are constantly trying to one up each other.  What is most important is that a contractor has successfully been in business for many years.  He has gained the experience of working on many different types of projects over the years and running into an array of complications that are now foreseen and will not be an issue on your project or any other projects saving you time and money.  Another important thing to remember is that a Construction company, or any company for that matter, that is still in business today, has been able to withstand the demise of these very trying economic times, and that really says something about a business!!!
  • Work Ethic:Out of all the Contractors in the area there are probably less than a handful that are really masters of their trade.  Today so many people have started in the construction industry working and managing jobs from behind a desk.  I don't know about you, but I wouldn't want my house being built or major home renovation project being managed by someone who was never actually on the job site.  Make sure to keep this in mind when choosing a contractor, and select a hands-on contractor who will be fully involved with your project and have first hand knowledge regarding your project at all times.  

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