How to Choose Your General Contractor

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If you are planning to remodel your home or starting a home construction project, you will need an expert in the construction industry. That expert is a general contractor.

General contractor may have the experience to handle the entire project. Other general contractors specialize in certain areas only such as kitchens or bathrooms. For large projects you may find it better to hire a general contractor who will hire other general contractors to sub-contract according to their specialization. Finding the right general contractor for your project may take some time. You will need to meet with a few to see if your general contractor shares your values for the project.

Once you have found that fit, it’s time to check out a few things.

Experience

Find out how long the contractor been in business in this area. He should have a business physical address, not just a PO Box. He should be able to show you pictures of some of his projects and provide references.

Credentials

The contractor should be licensed for your municipality and with your State. Liability insurance must be in place to provide coverage for your property should there be any accidental damage during the construction project. Workman’s Compensation insurance or Labor and Industries insurance is necessary to cover any injured workers. The contractor should also be bonded. All of these documents should be readily available to allow you to verify them.

The same information will be required for any subcontractor needed to the job. These should be provided to you as the need arises.

References

Your contractor should be able to provide references that you can call. Find out if the previous project was completed timely and within budget limits. Ask how the reference feels about the end result. Ask if there were any problems on the job. If so, were they quick to come back and fix the problem? These are potential problem you might expect. It’s best to know how the contractor has handled them in the past.

Detail Estimate and Quote

It is normal for a contractor to provide a detailed written estimate of the project and quote. This should also include any down payment or progress payments for larger jobs.

The lowest bidder is not always the one you want. Review all details of all bids submitted. If there are big differences in the approach, talk to the contractor about it and determine if his reasoning is sound.

From each bid, you should know the time frame for the project, type of materials to be used, how many workers will be in the crew, details of each subcontractor’s job, payment arrangements, and what warranty is being provided by the general contractor, subcontractor and the manufacturer of the materials.

Once you have reviewed all the bids and found the one that best meets your projects requirements, you are ready to sign the contract and set a start date.

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