You have decided to pursue some home improvements and know you need professional help. Now you just need to figure out how to find quality contractors.
Finding Contractors for Your Home Improvements
A contractor is a construction professional or company that does…well, construction. There are different types of contractors. A general contractor is responsible for overseeing the entire project and bringing in sub-contractors that specialize in some particular area such as electrical installation, drywall, framing, pools and so on.
The general contractor acts as the coordinator and is essentially where the buck stops when you have question, comments or criticisms. The “GC” is specifically responsible for supervising all the work, hiring and paying subcontractors, buying materials and making sure everything meets the requirements of building codes. Any GC you use should be licensed by the state in which you live. If they are not, do no hire them.
When you start searching for a general contractor, the first thing you will discover is there are a lot of them. In fact, there are over a million licensed general contractors in the United States. So, how do you find the best of the best?
Words are cheap unless you are talking to a lawyer, psychiatrist or IRS agent. In relation to your project, this means you should not rely on the sales pitch of a contractor. Instead, the best method for finding a good general contractor is to ask friends, family and neighbors. Importantly, do not ask if they know someone. Instead, ask if they have ever had improvements done by a GC and how it went. You do not want a referral to someone who is a third cousin of somebody. You want a referral to a contractor that has proven they do good work and handle a project competently.
Once you have some referrals, you want to sit down and meet with each personally. You should ask them about their licensing, the types of projects they handle, references from other clients that have done projects for and their contractor’s license number. If they hesitate at all in responding to any of these questions, move on to the next referral.
Once you narrow down your field of potential candidates, show them what you want done. Ask them if they have every done this type of project before. Then get written estimates from all of them. Once you have the estimates, are any of them significantly higher or lower than the others? If so, find out why. Once you have a feel for the basis of the estimates, you can make your selection. Do not just pick the cheapest offer.