How To Hire A General Contractor: Checklist And Tips
Homeownership comes with a lot of responsibility and a variety of unique tasks. A general contractor can help you with everything related to home improvement, including painting kitchen cabinets and installing roofing. As construction experts, general contractors will oversee your home projects to ensure the job is done correctly and efficiently. Knowing how to hire a contractor, and how to find the right one for you, will help make your project a success.
General Contractor Qualifications
The license and registration requirements of contractors will differ depending on where you live. Check with your state, county and/or city to get the scoop on what’s required. Then, be sure your contractor has the necessary documents and skills to get the job done:
- Relevant experience
- Required permits
- Good reviews
- Personal liability insurance
- Worker’s compensation
- Property damage coverage
Services a General Contractor Offers
Some general contractors specialize in specific projects, like roofing or painting houses, while others are multifaceted. For whichever project they are hired, contractors are responsible for providing the labor, equipment and materials necessary.
General contractors can handle:
- New construction
How to Hire a General Contractor
The first step to take when searching for a quality general contractor is asking people you trust for recommendations. You can also do an internet search for reputable contractors in your area. Look for ones with experience in areas related to your project.
Some contractors work independently, while others are part of larger construction companies. Both types should be considered, as long as they meet the proper requirements.
Questions to Ask a General Contractor
Hiring a contractor to work on your house is a decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. The goal is to hire a quality worker who can complete your project efficiently while ensuring the outcome is functional and looks great. Getting the job done right the first time will save money on future repairs or adjustments.
Before hiring a general contractor, ask them questions to be sure they are the right fit. When meeting with potential contractors, follow a checklist and ask:
- How long has your company been in business?
- What experience do you have with this type of project?
- Do you have the necessary permits or licenses?
- Do you have references?
- What is the cost estimate?
- What is the timeline for this project?
- Are you insured?
Choosing the Right General Contractor
Ideally, the contractor you hire will have experience, expertise and all the necessary permits and licenses to complete your project. If they tick all those boxes, check with the Better Business Bureau to see if they have any complaints against them. If they do, it’s not an automatic no. Contact them and ask how they resolved that particular issue.
The right general contractor for you will be skilled, experienced, trustworthy and professional. Once you find a contractor with those characteristics, your project can begin.
Discuss your payment options and budget with your general contractor before they start their work. Each contractor will have different pricing as there are no industry standards.
But no matter the price, do not pay cash. Pay by check or credit card for smaller projects or arrange financing for larger ones. If your contractor asks for cash payments, it’s likely a scam.
Down payments, however, are typical. Some states have limits on the amount of money a contractor can request as a down payment. Contact your state to learn about the laws in your area.