How to Choose a General Contractor
1. Only Hire Licensed Contractors
Interview and hire licensed contractors.
2. Verify the Contractor’s References
Visit NARI at www(dot)nari(dot)org for a list of its members in your area. NARI stands for the National Association of the Remodeling Industry. NARI is a respected organization that chooses professional contractors to become members and learn quality standards about their trade. It is also a good idea to get 3 references of recent jobs from your contractor and ask to review past remodeling work.
3. Check the Better Business Bureau (BBB)
You can view your states local better business bureau to make sure the contractor does not have a history of disputes with clients or subcontractors. This can be viewed on BBB’s website.
4. Licensed Subcontractors
Ask what subcontractors the General Contractor will use on the your remodeling project to make sure they are all properly licensed. A General Contractor is only as good as the subcontractors they choose. Subcontractors will most likely be at the jobsite (your house) more than the General Contractor, so it is important you know who they are and their history.
5. Make Sure All Agreements are in Writing
It is imperative that all agreements are made in writing including all changes made to the initial home remodeling agreement. This protects both parties and holds accountability.
6. Don’t Let Price Be Your Only Factor
Usually the lowest bid is cutting corners or desperate for home remodeling work. This can cost you more in the long run if the General Contractor finishes a remodel haphazardly. The most important factor should be how comfortable you feel with the contractor and his technical competence to give you want you want. Communication is key, it is important to make sure both parties are on the same page at all times to prevent confusion and frustration during the remodel.
7. Meet Face to Face
Based on phone interviews select three contractors to meet in person for estimates and further discussion of the your home remodeling project. Be sure to have important questions you may have about the General Contractor’s home remodeling process. It is a long and thorough process so it is important your contractor has strong answers. It is important that they are upfront with you about their process so that you know you are choosing the right type of General Contractor that suites your needs.
8. Keep All Records and Documents
Keep detailed records of everything related to the project, including a payment receipt file. You may know your General Contractor personally, but it is still good practice to make sure everything is in writing to prevent further confusion.
9. Workers’ Compensation
Confirm that all contractors working on your project have workers compensation insurance for employees.
10. Payment Schedule & Final Inspection
Make sure your contract has a breakdown of payments based on worked completed. Do not make payments ahead of schedule or before work is completed and be cautious if a large down payment is requested. The sad truth is General Contractors will sometimes finish before the job is done or take your money and run if you pay too much up front. DO NOT make the final payment until you are %100 satisfied with the work performed.