General contractors are called many things, including builder, remodeling contractor and building contractor. Whatever the moniker, in this article we break down how to select a contractor for a project and how to find someone you can trust that can take full responsibility for getting a project done. You’re hiring someone who can purchase materials, gather the best tradesmen and subcontractors, and stick to a reasonable budget and schedule.
How to Select a Contractor for a Project
Construction services will have a great impact on your project, so we have to choose one carefully. They have to be honest and have a sense of integrity that inspires trust. When you hire a good general contractor, you should know what you’re going to get:
- Accountable estimation and bidding on the project
- Honest and thoughtful negotiation of contracts
- Hiring of responsible, skilled and experienced tradesmen and subcontractors
- Obtaining of necessary permits and scheduled inspections
- A reasonable payment schedule based on the project’s progress and budget
- Disbursement of payments to subcontractors, vendors and material suppliers
- Management of schedule for all workers, subcontractors, deliveries and deadlines
- Negotiation of material prices and ordering the best materials
- Interpreting plans and specifications in alignment with project
- Supervision, coordination and inspection of all work by employees and subcontractors
- Troubleshooting on-site problems
Depending on the scale of a project, a California general contractor may have a foreman or project manager to oversee day-to-to operations. On smaller projects, the general contractor could be on site regularly.
Questions to Ask a General Contractor
- How many projects like mine have you successfully completed?
- What is the per square-foot average cost for this type of project?
- What is your background in green building, energy-efficient construction, passive solar or any other special interests you may have?
- Will you supervise the construction on site? If not, who will be my direct contact once construction starts?
- Who will be doing the majority of work on my project? Do you have your own employees or will you outsource to subcontractors?
- How does your general contracting firm prefer to work: cost-plus, competitive bidding, negotiated price or something else?
- What would you say is your company’s greatest strength?
- (If remodeling): What safety procedures do you put in place so that the job site is clean and safe? How do you manage bacteria, dust and debris that can get around?
Making a Decision
So how to select a contractor for a project? Hire someone that you trust will act in your best interests. Ask people you trust for recommendations.
Once you have a few names, check online reviews of the company through websites like the BBB, and Google My Business just to name a few. Look for testimonials and comments both on- and off-site. Make sure the company’s construction services has a strong track record.
You want a general contracting firm you believe will make a sound business partner because that’s what you’re hiring, a partner. There can be setbacks – the more intricate or scaled the project, the more likely there will be – and it’s important to know what your contractor is doing their best and acting responsibly.
Your final choice should suit the way you work. They should hear your ideas, but balance them with practicality, functionality and affordability. Never assume the lowest bid is the best and read contracts carefully.
Many have said before hiring a contractor – or real estate agent or accountant – ask yourself if you would buy a used car from them. If you don’t believe you would, you probably shouldn’t hire them to manage your construction project.