10 Mistakes to Avoid When Selecting a General Contractor
If you’re “all thumbs” when it comes to home improvements but dead-set on a dream renovation inside or outside your home, then a key to ensuring your project runs smoothly is choosing a general contractor with experience, expertise and a verified reputation for quality and professionalism. But dealing with contractors can sometimes be difficult, so here are 10 mistakes you should avoid making once your project is ready to go.
1. Don’t let a general contractor set your budget for you. Know much you can afford to spend going in, and tailor your renovation around those numbers. And try not to base your decision solely on price.
2. A signed contract is an absolute must for any home renovation project, as it clearly spells out design objectives, deadlines, and will even provide a materials list. We’ve dealt with many homeowners who, unfortunately, agreed to let a friend or family member work on a project based on a handshake or conversation – big mistake.
3. Make sure any general contractor provides a guarantee as part of the work which spells out what is and isn’t covered, for how long, and if there are any costs associated with warranty work being undertaken.
4. Remember the three R’s. No, we’re not talking “reading, riting, and rithmatic,” but rather references, references, references. Any general contractor worth his tool belt has reams of satisfied customers he can refer you to. And if he doesn’t? Then look elsewhere.
5. Know what to expect about the contractor’s process. This means the general contractor should have a regular schedule for when work begins and ends each day, a contingency plan if an emergency arises and a key team member can’t be there, and how they’ll keep the rest of your home safe and clean during the project.
6. Never select a general contractor who isn’t insured and licensed.
7. Avoid “making it up as you go along.” Too often we’ve been on a job where a client wanted to change direction in the middle of the renovation, and we’ve had to gently steer them back on track to what was in the contract – and what their goals were and how the change conflicted with them.
8. A renovation or construction project should never require more than a 10 percent down payment. In fact, a written contract should spell out payment milestones; in other words, the general contractor will receive x-dollars when this goal has been met, and so forth.
9. Every contractor has to start somewhere, and not all have a binder full of professional affiliations, but try and select one that has at least one affiliation or membership under his or her belt. This demonstrates the general contractor is professional, and respects his or her craft,
10. Never sign a contract with someone whom you’re not comfortable working with.
Finally, avoiding these common mistakes will ensure you select the best general contractor for your project, resulting in a finished product that everyone can be proud of for years to come.