Finding a general contractor is not an easy task for a homeowner. Firstly, there are several contractors who lack the experience, precision, and commitment. Secondly, the process of selecting a company that will be managing your biggest life investment must be researched carefully. Finally, recommendations from friends and architects who have experience with the contractor, contractor references, and testimonials will assist in making this difficult decision.
Things have changed significantly in the construction industry since the United States entered a recession. Contractors are neglecting to carry the proper insurance policies for general liability and worker’s compensation, which places liability in the homeowner’s lap, should something go wrong on the jobsite (http://www.angieslist.com/articles/what-are-risks-hiring-unlicensed-contractor.htm). Contractors are requesting payments in cash, and commitments to projects without formal contracts or scheduling. This can be dangerous for homeowners who trust their contractors to pay suppliers and subcontractors on time (or if at all).
We suggest the following in your quest for the right GC: (Additional suggestions from other reputable sources can be found at http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/photos/0,,20539027,00.html, http://www.networx.com/article/top-3-things-to-look-for-in-a-general-co)
- Investigate the contractor’s experience through website and other social media. Read testimonials and contact their references. Consider the high quality in the contractor’s past work and his abilities to manage previous projects depending on size, details and difficulty.
- When a contractor does not treat your project as a priority, or refuses to break down your pricing, consider this a red flag. A GC that is committed to you and offers an “open book” has nothing to hide.
- Make sure your contractor is insured properly and forwards insurance certificates and a subcontractor list of workers on your jobsite. Consider a builder’s risk policy on your project during construction. Your contractor can have this policy issued through his insurer for approximately 1% of total construction costs (http://www.insurance4usa.com/home-insurance-whilebeingbuilt.cfm).
- Carefully consider when a contractor refuses to work anything but “cash only”, without a contract or schedule, and without the proper legal paperwork for payout procedures (http://realestate.msn.com/article.aspx?cp-documentid=16070471). Require your contractor and his subcontractors and suppliers to issue waivers of lien with each payout. Unless you have very deep pockets, and enjoy giving money away, consider comprehensive pricing up-front to assist you in keeping track of where your money is going. An honest contractor that runs a true general contracting business will have no problem offering this in his services.
- The best project will be completed by the contractor who has made you a priority, and has been involved since day one. Make sure you understand what is included in the proposal, and be careful not to jump on the low bid…As the old saying goes “Pick any two”, cost, quality or schedule.
o Design something quickly and to a high standard, but then it will not be cheap.
o Design something quickly and cheaply, but it will not be of high quality.
o Design something with high quality and cheaply, but it will take a relatively long time.
- Shopping bids between contractors (i.e. showing a contractor another contractor’s bid) is unethical and tends to contaminate bids by losing the “apple-to-apple” comparison, especially in conceptual budgets. Crown does not bid shop with our subcontractors – each price on your proposal is the price the subcontractor is paid.
Please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 219-488-2400 for more useful tips, and don’t forget to view our latest projects at http://crownconstructionin.houzz.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/pages/Crown-Construction-Contracting/1420513534844348