When you're planning to build a new home or renovate your existing building, it's vital to find the right person to head up the construction crew. Take several factors into consideration to select a qualified building contractor for the job.
You've drawn up the plans and purchased the lot, and now it's time to actually build your dream home. You know you're going to need people to build the frame, install the walls and floors, isolate the building against the weather, and set up plumbing, heating, and cooling systems. Then there's painting, door and window installation, and a host of other jobs to do before your construction site becomes a proper home. How are you expected to coordinate all of these tasks and ensure that everything is done up to your standards and all local building codes?
You need a general building contractor. It's the contractor's job to organize and exceed your building project, from empty lot to faucet and doorknob installation. The contractor selects a team to work on your project, ensures that everyone is following the architect's plan, and drives to keep construction on time and budget. It's a big job, and not one you want to trust to an amateur. But how can you find a quality contractor in your area?
As with any construction or repair professional, sometimes the best way to find the right general contractor is via word of mouth. Ask friends and family members in the area who was in charge of their home construction or renovation. Were they satisfied with the contractor's work? Do they have any complaints? Would they hire this person again? Write down any names that have overwhelmingly positive recommendations.
Any phone book or online directory can give you names and phone numbers, but to find the right general contractor for your needs, you'll want to do a little more research. Visit contractors' Web sites to learn more about their business. How much formal education do they have? How many years have they been heading up construction projects? How are they licensed? You probably do not want to be the guinea pig for a brand-new contractor with no formal training. Online research can also lead to past client reviews. Review sites allow people to post positive and negative feedback for local businesses, including building contractors. Use every resource at your disposal on the Internet to help you make an informed decision.
Ask the Experts
If you do not know anyone in the area who's built their own home and you really want to talk to a person about how a certain contractor might work for your specific needs, consider visiting a local building supply store. These stores are likely work with many contractors on many different types of jobs, from new home construction to small-scale additions, and the employees should be able to recommend good contractor candidates. Building professionals can knowably discuss how various general contractors work from a different perspective than your next-door neighbor might offer. Plus, they're unbiased and may be less likely to recommend someone because of personal connections than a friend who does not know the ins and outs of construction.
Once you have a few names you feel comfortable with, it's time to request a bid from those contractors. While you might be tempted to leak at the lowest bid, think carefully about what you might lose out on if you hire that person. When it comes to construction, something that seems to be too good to be true often is. Interview your contractor candidates face to face about their priorities and the work they're be doing for you. See who you have the best rapport with; building and renovating homes are long-term projects, and you do not want to hire someone who makes you uncomfortable. Weigh all of these elements-recommendations, qualifications, bids, and personal factors-to find the right general contractor for your job.