You’re Hired: 5 Pro Tips to Find the Best General Contractor

If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional, wait until you hire an amateur.

At Debowsky Design Group, we’ve seen what happens when good homeowners hire bad contractors. It’s not uncommon. We’ve all heard the horror stories of clients’ projects extending long past the promised date of completion, over budget and with low-quality results and innumerable mishaps along the way.

What’s could be worse? Well, being ghosted by your GC.

Many homeowners are happy when a general contractor simply shows up or returns their phone calls. But there’s more to choosing a general contractor who will fully and responsibly oversee your build. Here are a few of our insider tips:

  1. Understand your GC’s responsibilities. Your general contractor should provide a contract with you to complete a project, accepting full responsibility to abide by the details of the contract. That means your GC will purchase the materials, hire and manage all subcontractors until the job is done, establish a payment schedule, obtain the necessary permits, and interpret the plans and specifications. Phew. That’s a lot. The lowest bidder may not be your best bet.
  2. Check references. Like we mentioned, many homeowners are thrilled with a return phone call and the lowest project estimate. But a lot is riding on your GC’s knowledge and experience, as well as his or her reputation. Ask past clients how he/she handled weather delays, day-to-day communication, and on-the-job troubleshooting. It matters.
  3. Talk to the sub-contractors. A good GC has professional and positive relationships with those who get the work done, from plumbers to electricians, roofers, and painters. If the GC expects quality work, promptness, and reliability from sub-contractors and won’t rehire those who don’t meet his or her standards, you can be assured the project will run as smoothly as possible. If, however, subcontractors complain about not being paid – or being underpaid – take note; a disgruntled crew is not ideal.
  4. Ask questions and pay attention to the answers. How many projects of this size and detail have they completed? What efforts are made to keep the job site clean and safe? How present will they be throughout the duration of the job? If you’re interested in energy-efficiency, green building, passive solar, ask if the GC has experience with those types of processes. Most importantly, make sure the bid includes everything you want done.
  5. Be prepared for delays…and worse. Weather happens, especially in South Florida. Your GC will do their best to reschedule the sub-contractors and late deliveries, but it’s all a balancing act. We highly recommend adding a mediation or arbitration clause to your contract just in case the project goes off the rails.

No matter how many questions you ask, or how many references you check and double-check, no matter how strong your contract may be, or how precise our plans, there are no guarantees in general contracting. Choose someone with an untarnished reputation and finished projects that inspire you, and above all else, trust your gut.

And remember: We are always here to help ensure your GC is sticking to our plans. Call us any time.

 

About Stuart Debowsky

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