If you are planning on a remodeling project or an addition to your home, it’s important to hire not only a good general contractor that provides quality workmanship, but also one that you connect with and get along well with. Most people request bids from several contractors but ultimately chooses the one with the lowest bid. However, hiring the cheapest contractor may end up costing you even more than if you hired a contractor that provided a higher bid. Mistakes made by a bad contractor are very very costly and can increase your budget significantly. That’s why it’s so important to interview several contractors preferably referred to you by someone you know to see who is the right fit for you. Ask them as many question as you can, research them online, and look at the projects they have worked on. So, what should you look for in a general contractor?
Managing a renovation or remodeling project is a full-time job. It requires an experienced general contractor that can take on every responsibility of the project from beginning to end. The right general contractor will guarantee you are happy and satisfied by scheduling and coordinating the project properly and keeping everyone that is a part of the project in the loop every step of the way. Hiring a good general contractor gives you the benefit of a hands-off approach to a project. You are still in charge and make all of the decisions of course, but you don’t have to necessarily supervise or project manage contractors if the contractors do their job right. A really good general contractor will not only manage their employees but also works well with the architect and interior designer to ensure things go smoothly and according to schedule as much as possible.
License, Permit, Insurance, Action!
Good general contractors are licensed. They have experience interacting with the city and state in order to pull necessary permits to get the job done the right way the first time. They always make sure that everything is done according to code in the state that they are licensed in, in order to pass inspection. A good general contractor comes equipped with worker’s compensation and liability insurance in order to provide themselves with protection while offering you peace of mind.
A really good general contractor not only has a great reputation but they also have connections with other professionals in the industry to help you find the resources you need for your project from architects to interior designers, landscape architects, and subcontractors. A general contractor will do all of the work they are licensed and trained to do as well as provide and manage subcontractors such as electricians and plumbers to complete the job. General contractors are also knowledgeable about where to source materials as well. However, most general contractors do not purchase materials on behalf of their customers. They typically only purchase construction materials such as wood, sheetrock, thinset mortar, grout, etc… Most interior designers can purchase materials such as ceramic tiles, kitchen cabinets, lights, countertops, etc.. for clients at a markup which is always below retiail. Unless you are experienced in construction (or specifically have in depth knowledge of the type of project you are working on), make sure you hire a good general contractor to ensure the job gets done right on in a timely manner. A good general contractor is customer-focused and always has your best interest in mind.
An experienced and good contractor has good communication skills and is transparent with everyone involved on the project. They make sure that everyone has has up to date information and they schedule weekly meetings in order to ensure everyone from the architect to the interior designer is in the loop. It’s easy to miss information if only the contractor communicates to his/her employees when the bathroom tiling is going to start or when the plumber will be onsite, with out informing the interior designer or the customer of the information. Things can get out of control and miscommunication and misunderstandings can happen. It’s crucial and key that a good contractor communicates information properly to everyone on the project so that everyone is on the same page.
Don’t Let Money Control the Decision
The biggest mistake people make when hiring a general contractor is allowing money to have too much control over their decision. Having a strict budget for a design project is very important, don’t get me wrong. However, when it comes to construction, you have to remind yourself that cheaper is not always better, hence, the phrase “You get what you pay for” and it’s absolutely true. Also, with most design projects, there will always be something that comes up out of the blue that you aren’t prepared for which will increase your budget such as having to replace all plumbing pipes because it’s not up to code or because there was mold behind the drywall that you now have to correct, etc..
You can always opt for lower end and affordable materials, but you definitely don’t want to cut corners and go with the cheapest bid when it comes to who is doing the construction work. Taking shortcuts in order to save money could end up costing you even more money in the long run due to poor quality workmanship and mistakes made by the contractor. For example, if a contractor didn’t handle permits and codes properly, or a tile setter did a poor job tiling the shower walls and bathroom floors, or if they didn’t even follow the floor plans drawn by an interior designer, then it can be a very costly mistake to fix. Be sure to interview the general contractor, request references, and research information about them online before you hire them and make sure they are licensed, reputable, a good fit for you, and most of all, that they have your best interest in mind.