If you’re looking to do significant remodeling or renovation to your home, chances are you’re going to need a general contractor, but where do you start? We have collected a few helpful tips that will guide you on how to select a general contractor for your remodeling job.
What is a general contractor?
Basically, a general contractor is a party with the responsibility to oversee a construction project and who enters the prime contract with the property owner. As you can imagine, a significant home remodel has a lot of moving parts, and likely several types of workers are going to be involved with the project, from a plumber to electrician and so on. Having a primary point of contact throughout the process can prove invaluable.
Do you need a general contractor for a remodeling job?
Large projects that take time, machinery, and multiple workers, such as a kitchen remodel or home addition, often require a general contractor’s license. These types of projects often require multiple types of licensing and levels of expertise. In addition to licensing, a remodeling contractor will often focus on larger projects that require a lot of coordination, sometimes over weeks, to complete. A major home renovation needs a general contractor to help the project go as smoothly as possible.
What you should know before hiring a general contractor
As you can imagine, hiring the right general contractor is essential! Referrals are always ideal, so you can speak directly with someone who has already worked with the contractor. Ask friends, family, coworkers, or neighbors to see if they have anyone, they will wholeheartedly refer for your remodeling project. If you do not have that luxury (and even if you do), here are a few items you need to get from each potential contractor to make the right decision.
Check their credentials
Even if you meet or are referred to an ideal general contractor, check their credentials. Go online and confirm that they have the proper state and local licenses required for the job they will be doing for you. Look at the professional certification or what associations they belong to. See if they have any professional designations such as Certified Graduate Remodeler (CGR).
Interview several contractors
“It’s always good to get a second opinion” typically applies to medical decisions, but the same can be said for a general contractor. Meet with a few contractors and present your project in the same fashion to each one. See how each address how the project will be managed. Also, pay attention to whether they are asking you thoughtful questions about the project. You’ll learn a lot about their communication style from doing this, and that’s important, as you’ll be communicating with your contractor a lot!
Check their references
Even if the general contractor was referred to you by a trusted friend or family member, go the extra steps to check references. Ask to speak to other clients who had similar projects in size and scope. While no project goes perfectly, seeing how a contractor handled the project overall, good, and bad, is telling. Do not skip over this step!
Get everything in writing before the project starts
You would be surprised how many homeowners do not get a detailed bid in writing. This is a must! Will the scope of the project change over time? Possibly. Will the general contractor or one of the workers run into something unexpected that might challenge the timeline? It happens. However, getting a bid in writing will make these pivots and surprises easier to manage. Make sure the proposal has the following in it:
- Bid price and payment schedule
- Detailed information about the scope of work
- Site plan
- Change order clause
- Dispute resolution clause
- Waiver of lien
Remodeling projects can be exciting! Choosing the right general contractor for the job will ensure you get precisely what you want in your project, on time, within budget, and done professionally.