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  • Writer's pictureJason Patterson

What to Look for in a Reliable General Contractor

Every year, Americans spend more than $60,000 (on average) on home renovations.

If you're interested in building a home or renovating your current property, it's important to have a good general contractor on your team.

How do you find a contractor who's up to handling the project and getting it done in a timely manner? 

Read on for some essential tips that will help you find a great general contractor.

Start with Referrals

If you're looking to hire a contractor and have no idea where to begin, referrals are a great starting point.

Do you have any friends or family members who have recently renovated their homes or built a home?

If so, reach out to them and ask them which contractor they worked with and how they enjoyed their experience. Get specific about what they like and didn't like and whether they'd hire that contractor for another project.

Look at Their Credentials

Once you've found a few contenders, it's time to do some research. Pay attention to the contractor's credentials and find out what sets them apart from the other candidates.

Visit the contractor's website and do some digging to find out some basic information about them.

This includes learning about their certifications and making sure all their licenses are up to date.

You can also check to find out if they are affiliated with any professional associations like the National Association of the Remodeling Industry.

Consider Their Experience and Management Style

It's also important to find out about their experience. 

The following are some other questions you might want to ask to learn about their experience:

Do they have a permanent mailing address? Do they carry liability insurance? How long have they been in business?Do they have solid relationships with plumbers, electricians, and other skilled workers? Do they have a positive track record? Are their online reviews generally positive? What kinds of projects have they worked on in the past? Do they have experience with homes like yours?

When you're doing your research, be sure to write down the answers to all these questions. It'll help

make things easier when you're comparing and contrasting different contractors.

Conduct Phone Interviews

Once you've found a few candidates and assessed their basic credentials, try to get them on the phone to learn more about them.

When you're talking to them on the phone, keep your conversation brief (remember that contractors are busy people). Some basic questions you might want to ask during this phone call include:

Do they take on projects like yours very often?Can they provide financial references?How many other projects are they working on right now

Be sure to ask about their subcontractors, too, and find out how long they've been working together.

Move on to In-Person Interviews

If you're impressed with a particular candidate during the phone interview, move on to an in-person interview. Ask if you can come to their office and meet with them to talk about your project in more detail.

During this meeting, pay attention to the way you communicate with the contractor. Are they able to answer your questions easily and in a satisfactory manner? Are they friendly and personable?

Remember, you're going to be spending a lot of time talking to your contractor throughout the course of the project. You need to make sure you can get along well with them.

Ask About Availability

When you're meeting with potential contractors, don't forget to ask about their availability. Keep in mind that a good contractor is a busy contractor.

As a general rule of thumb, you should assume that they won't be able to start right away. If they don't have a lot of projects going on at once, this might be a red flag.

Ask About Price and Payment Schedules

You'll need to ask about a contractor's prices, too.

In order to give you a good estimate for the project, your potential contractor is going to need some information from you. This includes a complete set of blueprints and details about the kind of work you want to be done and what you envision for the finished product.

Make sure you're prepared with all this information before you sit down with a contractor.

When they're putting together a bid for the project, be sure to ask them to break everything down. That way, you can clearly see how much labor will cost, how much materials will cost, and other information about the project.

Check Their References

After going through all these steps, you'll probably have narrowed your options down to just a couple contenders. At this point, it's a good idea to reach out to their references and learn more about their process.

When you're checking references, be sure to ask the same questions you asked friends or family who gave you referrals. This includes questions like "what did they like about working with this contractor?" and "would they hire them again?"

This is a good time to review their online reviews and online testimonials, too. 

Look at Contracts Carefully

Finally, don't forget to review their contracts carefully before you make any decisions. This is a big project you're signing up for—you owe it to yourself to read the fine print.

Make sure the contract looks fair and balanced and contains specific information about the scope of their work, the site plan, and the payment schedule.

If you notice anything that seems questionable, address it before signing.

Hire a General Contractor Today

As you can see, there are quite a few factors you need to take into account when you're looking to hire a general contractor to handle your home construction or renovations.

It can be overwhelming at first when you need to hire a contractor. If you keep these tips in mind, though, the process will be much easier.

Are you ready to hire a contractor for your home? If you live in the central Iowa area, we can help at J & G Builders.

Contact us today to learn more about our services or to schedule an appointment to talk about what we can do for your home.


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