General Contractors

General contractors are responsible for managing all aspects of your project, including hiring and supervising, getting building permits, ordering supplies, and scheduling inspections to ensure that the job is done efficiently and to your satisfaction.

Tips for Finding a Reliable General Contractor.

Know what you want before you get estimates. Start with a plan and some ideas. You’ll get a more accurate estimate if you can be very specific in what you want done and the materials you would like to use to make it happen.

Ask friends, relatives and co-workers for references. People in your neighborhood who have done similar projects are your best sources. If you know people in the building trades, ask them, too. Employees of local hardware stores may also be able to provide referrals.

Choose the right contractor for the right project. Someone who did a good job tiling your neighbor’s bathroom isnt necessarily the right person to build an addition to your home. You want to find a company that routinely does the kind of project you want done.

Check licenses, complaints and litigation history. General contractors and most subcontractors should be licensed, although the procedure varies by state and municipality. Check the disciplinary boards, Better Business Bureau and local court records for problems. Ask the contractor for a copy of his license and copies of the licenses of the major subcontractors who will work on the job.

Sign a detailed contract. Make sure your contract spells out exactly what will be done, including deadlines, progress payments, the exact materials that will be used down to the model number and who will provide which materials. If the builder’s contract is not detailed enough, write up your own or provide addendums. Any change in the project, whether you change your mind about products or ask for additional projects, should generate a written change order that includes the new work, materials and cost.

Talk to the contractor frequently. For a big job, you may need to talk every day. If you see a potential issue, speak up immediately. Something that is done wrong will be harder to fix later after your contractor has packed up and moved on to his next job.

Verify insurance coverage. Know what is covered by your homeowners insurance and what is covered by your contractor’s business insurance. Get a copy of the company’s insurance policy.

Dont make the final payment until the job is 100 percent complete. Contractors are notorious for finishing most of the job and then moving on before they get to the final details. Dont make the final payment until you are completely satisfied with the work and have all the lien releases and receipts.

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