A general contractor oversees building and remodeling projects from start to finish. Their main priority is making sure that a project progresses according to the schedule, is on budget, and that all work is done properly. All other contractors and workers answer to the general contractor and they answer to the client who hired them.
Start by getting bids from different contractors. Bids lay out your expected cost and the extent of the project, including materials, labor, and when the project will be done. If you have a local contractor in mind, feel free to work with them in negotiating the terms of a bid, rather than putting out a competitive bid request. Terms typically outline payment installments, an expected timeline for milestones, and the expected outcome at each phase of the project.
Once you've signed the contract with the general contractor, they bring in the workers and begin on the project. Throughout the course of the project, the general contractor manages all workers and subcontractors. General contractors generally own or work for a company that handles one or two aspects of building and remodeling. Very few do framing, finishing, electrical, concrete, plumbing, and landscaping on their own. So, it's quite common for general contractors to outsource work from other companies. The general contractor handles the hiring of these subcontractors, as well as paying them and their own workers. You only have to worry about paying the general contractor.
Hiring multiple subcontractors for a job might seem more economical, but it would put much of the decision-making on you. What you might save in money may be offset by the amount of time and mental energy you'd have to put into the project. An experienced general contractor knows the ins and outs of the construction business. They understand how to structure a project and work with subcontractors to get projects completed safely, and on schedule. This leaves the day-to-day decisions to someone with more experience.
The licensing rules in some states require hiring a general contractor for certain projects. If the state doesn't require a general contractor in your case, it makes good sense to hire a licensed and insured local contractor.
General contractors live by their reputation. They work hard to build trust with their clients and honor that trust through their management of construction projects. Even if they never lift a hammer during the course of a job, they feel a great sense of ownership of the whole operation.
General contractors usually have a vast knowledge of local building codes. Their understanding of construction and people management helps all subcontractors to work together. They see how each piece fits together to make a completed project. Subcontractors may take a narrow view of their role, which could cause problems for other subcontractors working on the next step. General contractors work closely with their crews, subcontractors, and you to prevent costly miscommunication.
Whether you're hiring a home contractor to build your dream house or searching "general contractors in my area" to oversee a remodel project, you'll be working closely with whomever you choose.
When you get underway with your contractor, you'll begin by sorting out every possible detail. Before work begins, the contractor will work out a project plan with you. The project plan may include determining fixtures, finishes, and furnishings — to avoid any cost gaps in the initial bid. The more specific you are, the more realistic and accurate the bid will be.
Make sure it’s OK to call or text your contractor throughout the day. Even if they aren't always available, they should provide you with contact information for a lead person or someone else you can discuss the project with. When possible, visit the job site. This gives the contractor or lead the opportunity to bring up any issues and ask any questions about specifics that weren't covered in the project plan.
It's also helpful to keep a project journal. Write down product order numbers. Jot down questions and ideas, and note delivery dates. This can make it easier to sort out any disputes that may arise later. Track any changes to the initial project plan in writing. If unforeseen changes occur, make sure to get a bid change in writing.
Other helpful tips:
Some general contractors charge a flat fee. Most charge a markup, which is a percentage of the overall completed project cost. The markup amount covers their overhead, including advertising, insurance, office expenses, and their own salary. The contractor should outline all payments and expenses in the contract at the outset.
Contractors typically ask for a percentage of the total project cost upfront. This initial fee covers the cost of getting the project started, provides workers with their wages for the first phase of the construction, and helps serve as a deposit for the needed materials and supplies. Fifteen percent is a fair and decent initial payment for getting a project started. Most states cap this initial fee at 33%, and a good contractor should have good enough credit to cover remaining up-front costs.
After each phase or "milestone" gets completed, your contract will likely require you to pay more money toward the project. These installments are an expected part of the construction process to cover wages, additional supplies, and materials the contractor may need to continue. Even the most well-off contractor would quickly run out of money to move forward if they didn't include installment payments into their contracts.
A big project is a costly endeavor and a long-term investment. When choosing a general contractor, it makes sense to look beyond just the contractor’s fee. Be sure to hire someone that can provide proof of licensing, insurance, and references. Take the time to look into their track record. A good general contractor will leave a trail of stellar online reviews, and when you talk to former clients, they'll have only good things to say. When you enter a project with a contractor, you need a pro you trust with your home, so it’s wise to do your homework ahead of time to ensure a successful outcome.
Begin with a plan that lays out the scope of the remodeling work you want done. By the time you hire a contractor, you should have decided on materials, fixtures, appliances, and other items. If you've decided on any changes to the floor plan, be sure to add the specifics to your plan. The more details, the better. Add everything you can think of, down to the brass pulls for the kitchen cupboards.
Once you have this plan, start talking to contractors to get estimates and formal bids. Ask around for local contractor recommendations at your local hardware store, or go online and read client reviews. Good contractors tend to be very busy, so expect a waiting period from the time you contact them to the time they can start on the project. Be sure to seek out a contractor with experience in the job you need done. If you need a patio installed, scroll past them if they specialize in kitchens and baths.
When speaking to the contractor, make sure you're clear on which parts of the project the contractor will handle and which will go to a subcontractor. Ask for proof of licensing, insurance, and any relevant subcontractors' licenses. Check contractor credentials with your local Better Business Bureau.
Only sign a detailed contract, and be sure you understand every detail of the contract before signing. Be sure to get the proper permits for your project. A good contractor will be able to talk you through getting permits. In some places, contractors are able to get the permits themselves. Check in with the contractor regularly during the course of the project to avoid errors and miscommunication.
Searching online for "good general contractors near me" or getting referrals from a hardware or home improvement store is a first step to hiring a contractor. Take certain precautions before hiring a contractor to prevent costly headaches later on.
Begin by working with a professional architect or designer who's able to provide all the information a contractor will need. A designer or architect can also create the necessary drawings to submit for obtaining a permit. Include details like finishes, fixtures, plumbing work, electrical installations, and possible millwork.
Come up with a specifications list in advance. Write down the details of every element you want placed into the project, from the front door to the floor tiles that you want. Calculate to make sure all your selections fall within your budget and meet your personal requirements.
Make sure your contractor has the proper licensing and insurance. Check out a potential contractor’s previous work. They should be able to offer examples. When you interview contractors, remember that you'll spend a lot of time working with this person. You need to feel you can trust them because unexpected situations are bound to come up. Perhaps you didn't consider what style of door handle you want for the master bathroom, or the carpet you selected for the living room is no longer available. These types of situations happen with any project, so do your best to remain patient throughout the construction process.
See to it that your contractor provides a timeline that they can stick to and that works with your needs. Get a list of subcontractors they use, and look into their history. Use careful consideration when choosing your contractor for the most successful outcome.
Be sure your general contractor is licensed and insured. They should have both contractor’s liability insurance and worker’s compensation insurance. An insured contractor will take responsibility for the project and for anything that happens at the worksite. Make sure their insurance covers any subcontractors or that they only work with insured third parties.
Ask for proof of insurance right away. Hiring an uninsured contractor may seem less expensive, but it could cost you down the road. In the event of a job-site injury or property damage, a properly insured contractor will shield you from potentially catastrophic costs. Depending on the state you live in, if a worker is injured on your property and their general contractor didn't carry the proper insurance, you might be liable for the cost of treating their injuries.
Homeowners’ insurance policies cover property damage. Some also cover limited injury liability, but these policies have limitations. Even in the unlikely event that your policy covers 100 percent of liability, your premiums would most certainly go up. Contractors insurance ensures that you don't have to cover any costs unrelated to the project completion itself.
If a contractor is reliable, they'll be licensed and carry insurance, and if they don't have a license, no company will insure them. Proof of proper licensing and insurance is a sure sign of a reliable contractor.
Fair pricing, on time, easy communication and project adjustment. Project was a new wall construction with a double door.
CCC surpassed all of our expectations building our brand new detached dwelling across every phase of the project. A+
The First impression of Lucas and his team was excellent. First of all, they called me back immediately not to mention they were the only one's to call me back from Porch. They showed up five minutes early to the walk through which is extremely unusual fo...
Did a great job on our townhome remodel. Included a two bathrooms and kitchen. Highly recommend them!
My husband and I were astounded by the work Jon completed on our bathroom and kitchen. He kept costs low, provided details on how our renovation was progressing, and finished ahead of schedule! He took the time to get to know our family and added special...
My two jobs were done with excellence. The re-siding of the SW side of the house that had been done just 2 years ago by a different general contractor had dried and warped off the house. He did the job the RIGHT way and it will last. He was willing to do ...
We hired Jon Taylor of Savant Builders to install doors and complete trim throughout our house. Our experience with him and his work was exceptional. His workmanship is of the first quality, he is prompt and timely in his communication and follow through ...
Jon was very professional, knowledgeable, conscientious and timely. He was able to complete our job in one weekend! Hiring him again for other projects around our house.
Hello, We hired Emerald City Construction for a remodel & addition in our Mercer Island,WA residence. Dmitry and Viktor had a exceptional team. They got the project done on schedule and while still maintaining grade A quality. I will definitely use Emera...
We hired Doug (owner of Cutting Edge Construction Today LLC) to complete 2nd floor addition. This ended up being a year-long project with and there were some pros and cons we would like to share. The pros: 1) Doug is an overall nice guy. Easy to talk to ...