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A general contractor is the main overseer on a construction site. He or she is responsible for making sure that every task is completed by the subcontractors during the construction of new additions, new homes or remodels. It is vital for a homeowner to find a contractor who is trustworthy, responsible and knowledgeable in the profession.
See how to find the best general contractor in you area below.
Use Business Listings
An easy way to find a general contractor is to check the yellow pages in the phone book or to search online. Most listings in a phone book will offer only basic contact information, such as an address and a phone number. On the other hand, online searches will often reveal independent contractors' websites, which may list previous experience and available services.
Looking in a directory is helpful, but the best way to find a great contractor is through word of mouth or personal references from family and friends. These people will generally be glad to describe what they liked or did not like about contractors they previously used, and they may even be able to display work that was done for them. In addition, acquaintances may know which area contractors offer the most competitive prices.
Interview Several Contractors
After finding the names of several general contractors, the homeowner should call each of them to find out if they are available, able and willing to do the required job. There will probably be three or four contractors to contact. Several specific questions should be asked either over the phone or in person.
- Do they have references?
- Can they show any past work?
- Are they licensed and insured?
- What subcontractors work with them?
- When would they be available?
Check Credentials and Licenses
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After receiving positive responses to these questions, the homeowner should still check out each general contractor's past record. Individuals should call a few past clients for each contractor to find out if they were pleased with the work done. The contractor should be able to prove that he or she holds proper licensure with the city or state and has insurance. Homeowners can check with their local chamber of commerce as well as with the national Better Business Bureau to ensure there are no complaints lodged against the contractor.
Get Detailed Job Estimates
The homeowner should then request a detailed estimate for the work that needs to be done from each potential contractor. The estimate should list the needed materials, as well as the cost of labor and any other expenses. Contractors may list a profit margin on their estimates.
Discuss Payment Schedules & Sign A Contract
In general, the contractor with the most competitive bid is likely chosen. Of course, an extremely low bid may be a sign of trouble. Next, homeowners should be aware of how the general contractor expects to be paid before they sign a contract. Many contractors require a percentage of the cost of the project up front. Others may also require payment as the job progresses. Generally, some money will be withheld until the project is completed. After all these details have been worked out, a contract should be signed to officially hire a general contractor.
General contractors determine the success of a building project. A great contractor will communicate well and be honest on estimates. He or she will perform work as stated in the contract and stand by the completed work. Personal references, combined with thorough investigation of a contractor's licenses and past work, ensures that homeowners find and hire the best contractor to meet their needs.