General contractors oversee home improvement, renovation, and remodeling projects. The job of the general contractor is to hire necessary subcontractors and ensure that the work is being done properly and on schedule. Basically, the general contractor is there to guarantee the work is being done to your specifications.
When deciding if you need a general contractor it is important to keep these things in mind. Can you handle the project yourself? Are you able to find and hire the necessary subcontractors to complete the work? Do you have the time available to be onsite to ensure the work is being completed the way you wanted and on schedule?
While it may save you money to be your own general contractor, it does require a lot of work and patience. You have to be able to understand what the subcontractors are doing and why they are doing things. You also must be able to handle the unexpected. For example if you are having the drywall replaced and the wall studs need replaced, do you know where to find a carpenter to replace them?
Most general contractors have their own employees that do basic construction and have their own tried and true subcontractors they use on a regular basis. This allows them to call a subcontractor at a moments notice and maintain a high quality of work.
If you decide to hire a general contractor, get referrals from friends, family, neighbors, or search the internet. Ask for references and other homes they have worked on in the area. Ask for addresses or phone numbers of the references so you can call. Remodeling and renovations are expensive and can increase or decrease the value of your home depending on the quality for the work.
Check with the Better Business Bureau for any complaints that may have been filed. Your local Chamber of Commerce is also a good place to find information on general contractors. Ask for business license numbers and verify worker’s compensation, general liability, and property damage insurance.
Once you have narrowed down your choices for a general contractor. Meet each one face to face to go over building or renovation plans and budget. You will get a much better feeling about a general contractor in person than just speaking over the phone. Get a written bid for the job. Compare the bids against each other and the project plan to ensure that nothing has been missed or overlooked. The lowest bid is not always the best choice especially when it is drastically lower than the others are. Most importantly follow your gut instinct.