How to Choose the Right General Contractor or Sub-contractors
If you don’t have any construction experience, deciding on the who to use as a general contractor or sub-contractors can be a difficult and intimidating task. You don’t want to end up with sub-par work, continually pushed back schedules, or constantly escalating estimates. Here are some help tips that will assist you in the process:
- Know what you are looking for. Have a solid plan of what you are trying to accomplish with your build. Being specific will enable you to get more accurate estimates from your contractor candidates.
- Ask for recommendations. If you know anyone who has done a similar project – friends, family, neighbors – see if they have work with anyone that left them very satisfied.
- Ask questions. Be specific and look for straightforward and honest answers. “I don’t know,” is an acceptable response, especially if they point you in the right direction or have an idea how to figure out the answer. Ask about checking with inspection departments, and make sure they don’t brush of these types of questions. Don’t rely on salespeople to answer your questions – they are probably looking for a commission and will say whatever they have to to get you to sign on the dotted line. You will be working with this person or company for many months, so good open lines of communication are key.
- Ask for references. Not supplying references is a big red flag – any successful and respected contractor should have lots of happy clients behind them. Make sure some of their references are recent – an older one would also be good to make sure their work stands the test of time. Follow up with the references they supply, and don’t be afraid to ask hard questions.
- Get copies of important documents. Business licenses, certifications, and insurance should all be readily available. Don’t forget to look at online reviews or the Better Business Bureau if that information is available. If you are hiring a general contractor, don’t be afraid to ask them to supply this information for all the sub-
contractors as well. Also, a reputable contractor should have a readily verifiable physical address and contact information.
- Get bids from at least three contractors. Make sure they all include the same materials and tasks so you can compare accurately. Ask the bids to include costs broken down by category into materials, labor, and other expenses.
- Set a payment schedule. Try to pay no more than 10% up front, unless materials are very expensive, then make milestone payments as the project goes on. Withhold the last payment until you are sure all work is satisfactory.
- Get everything writing. Make sure it outlines everything that will be done, deadlines, the payment schedule, the work schedule, and the materials list. There should be an agreement and how to deal with sub-par work as well.
- Get permits. If a contractor suggests skipping this or wants you to be the one in charge of getting the permits, run away.
- Don’t make your decision solely on price. Reputation, quality of work, reliability, and communication are all relevant to your choice as well. A super lowball bid might be just as much of a red flag as a super high one. Also remember that the best contractors are likely to be busy and you may have to wait a bit longer to get them out to your job site.
There’s more to it than that, but those tips should help get you on the right path toward choosing a general contractor or sub-contractors. If you think of any more we should add or want any advice in choosing yours, don’t hesitate to contact Wholesale Log Homes today.