5 Tips for Hiring the Perfect General Contractor (2023)

Searching online for a general contractor could lead to an overwhelming number of options to sift through.

A wrong choice of a contractor could lead to delays, substandard work, or legal issues.

You can avoid these troubles by using these five tips to properly vet your candidates and hire the one who will deliver the desired results.

General contractor services and qualifications

When selecting a general contractor, you must do so with the job you intend to hire them for in mind because some contractors specialize in specific project areas, such as roofing or painting.

On the other hand, others are multifaceted in various areas and can assist you with multiple projects.

Regardless of the project you hire them for, the contractor gets tasked with providing the labor, equipment, and any needed materials.

In general, it is normal for contractors to offer services regarding new construction, renovations, remodels, painting, electricity, plumbing, woodworking, roofing, and flooring, to name a few.

When hiring a contractor to complete one or more of these projects, you will want to ensure they have the proper licensing and registrations to work on the project within the state you reside.

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Also, confirm that they have the required documents and skills to complete the job. You can verify this by reading their customer reviews and ensuring they have experience with that type of project, as well as required permits, personal liability insurance, and property damage coverage.

You should be vetting these qualifications as a minimum before hiring a general contractor, but to ensure you hire the best, you should dig deeper into their work experience and work ethic.

Five tips to help you hire the perfect general contractor

You cannot rely solely on permits and licenses to point you in the direction of a quality contractor. Instead, use these tips to help you hire someone perfect for you and your project:

  1. Consider their reputation

Regardless of what you are hiring the contractor to complete, one of the most important things to consider is their reputation.

Find out what previous clients have said about their work, reliability, communication, and punctuality habits.

Having a clear answer for these variables will help you hire a stellar contractor. Once you have a few options, you can begin contacting them to interview them and learn more about what working with them would be like.

  1. Interview your prospective contractors

Any reputable contractor will understand how important your property is and will be available to answer any questions you may have. Should they refuse to answer your questions, it is best to move on to the next prospect.

While interviewing possible contractors, consider asking these questions to gain a better understanding of how they operate:

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  • How many people work for you, and what does your company structure look like? – This question answers how big their organization is, indicating their experience and establishment as a company. Additionally, administrative personnel makes it easier to contact a member of the company than if there was just one point of contact.
  • How long have you overseen your crew? – This question helps you determine whether they have experience and a track record of being reliable over a long period.
  • Will you be using subcontractors on my project? – Ideally, the contractor you hire can handle the entire project using their crew. If not, it is important to ask the question to be made aware of who will be at your property and whether they have the proper licensing and insurance to be working on the job site.
  • Have you ever dealt with lawsuits? – There are multiple parts to this question. You must ask whether they have ever been sued, sued a client, filed a mechanics lien against a property, and if the company has had any severe injuries. Public records can always verify the answers to these questions, but they should give you an idea of their character and transparency.
  • How often can I expect communications from your company? – This question will shed light on their professionalism and help set your expectations for progress reports.

In addition to these questions, you should ask how your contract will look, who will be on your property, and how many projects the company currently has.

  1. Have a contract in place before starting any work

Contracts with contractors should be specific and include information such as the prices, the kinds of items to be purchased, an estimated start and completion date, and the finished drawings with specifications.

Many contracts will include allowances for items such as stating, “up to $400 for interior paint".

Having a contract in place before initiating any work will help ensure everyone is on the same page on all aspects and nothing gets lost in translation.

  1. Ask about a Mechanic’s Lien

There are mechanic's lien laws in many states that permit anyone who worked on or provided materials for a project to place a lien on your home if they haven't received payment.

At first, they may not cause much concern since you intend to pay the contractor, but if they fail to pay subcontractors or the lumberyard, you could be liable for the bill.

Before you pay the contractor, you can get them to sign a lien release, which will protect you from this situation. A contractor with good intentions is unlikely to have an issue signing the lien release.

  1. Know how much you should pay

For a contractor to require an upfront payment of more than 30% is unreasonable.

Generally, the upfront cost should be a third of the overall project cost. Since many contractors keep money in reserve for the start of the project, money from you to cover material costs may help.

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Either way, you and your contractor should discuss and agree on a payment plan and be sure you both sign it in case of any future issues that may arise.

Also, be mindful of your payment method because if a contractor demands cash payment, they may have bad intentions. You can use business credit or a check written to the company, not the individual.

Ultimately, you want to ensure you can work well with your contractor.

At the end of the vetting process, you should feel comfortable and trust that the contractor will respect your property, treat you fairly, be honest, and complete quality work within the agreed-upon timeframe.

Properly vetting potential general contractors in this way will save you from the headaches of wasted time, wasted money, and damaged property.

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FAQs

What are the most important factors in the selection of contractors? ›

Hartmann et al. [4] set four essential criteria for choosing a subcontractor; “price, technical know-how, quality and cooperation.” In order to determine the relative importance of each criterion, the mean, median and standard deviation were calculated. The four criteria are considered essential ones.

How do you find a good contractor? ›

Here are 14 steps for finding a reliable home contractor:
  1. Have a detailed plan.
  2. Be aware of the current cost of labor and materials.
  3. Ask for references.
  4. Interview at least 3 contractors.
  5. Verify licenses and insurance.
  6. Be realistic about availability.
  7. Choose the right contractor for the right project.
20 Jun 2022

What should I look for when hiring a builder? ›

Recommendations and references are good ways to find reliable contractors who do a good job. If you can't get personal recommendations from people you know, ask contractors for references. It's best to get: 2 or 3 recent examples of similar work they've done.

What questions should I ask a builder before hiring? ›

12 questions to ask your builder before signing a contract
  • What experience do you have with my kind of project? ...
  • Are you accredited? ...
  • Can I see some finished projects? ...
  • Can I see a project in progress? ...
  • Do you have references and reviews? ...
  • Is your price a quote or estimate? ...
  • Do you have insurance cover?

What are the 5 essential elements of a construction contract? ›

5 Key Elements Every Construction Contract Should Contain
  • 1) The project's scope. ...
  • 2) The cost and payment terms. ...
  • 3) The project's time frame. ...
  • 4) Protection against lien law. ...
  • 5) Dispute resolution clauses.
20 Aug 2017

What are the 2 methods of selecting a contractor? ›

Suggested methods include: Regularly solicit bids from all responsible contractors who have expressed interest in receiving informal bids, or. Select contractors on a rotating basis from a pool of responsible contractors able to perform such work.

What makes a good general contractor? ›

Five qualities to look for in a general contractor include experience, reputation, integrity, flexibility and the ability to listen.

How do I hire a general contractor checklist and tips? ›

Hiring a Contractor Checklist and Tips
  1. Get Multiple Estimates. ...
  2. Hire Local, Licensed Contractors Whenever Possible. ...
  3. Check Their Past Work. ...
  4. Take Your Time Making a Sound Decision. ...
  5. Check Their Insurance and Bonding. ...
  6. Get Everything in Writing. ...
  7. Understand Your Right to Cancel. ...
  8. Don't Pay Up-Front.

Who is a good general contractor? ›

They are trustworthy – A good contractor must be trustworthy in every aspect of their work – your home is a major asset and you shouldn't trust its care to just anyone. While it's sometimes tough to know who to trust, use your best judgement to determine if your contractor has the integrity your home deserves.

How do you know if a contractor is quality? ›

Referrals from neighbors, friends, and co-workers might be one of the best ways to find a quality contractor. The fact that the contractor has generated “good word of mouth” shouldn't be ignored.

What do I need to know before hiring a home contractor? ›

Does the contractor have adequate resources to complete your project? Find out more about how many projects did they complete, what is their primary area of expertise, how they work with other subcontractors? How do they maintain a relationship with co-workers and clients?

What to know before talking to a contractor? ›

Hiring a contractor checklist
  • Research, research, research. ...
  • Verify the contractor's license and insurance. ...
  • Set a professional tone from the beginning. ...
  • Consider an emergency fund. ...
  • Get everything in writing. ...
  • Be very clear about what you want. ...
  • Discuss cleanup before work even begins.
13 Aug 2014

What is the first thing you check when a contractor arrives? ›

You need to check that any contractor you engage has the ability to fulfil their contract with you. You can look at their past job history and performance, their income, the size of their business, and whether they've filed for bankruptcy.

What are the five 5 main stages of a contract estimate? ›

There are five main types of construction cost estimates: preliminary, detailed, quantity, bid, and control. Each is used for a different purpose at a different time in a project lifecycle.

What are 5 responsibilities you have when entering into a contract? ›

Tip. The five requirements for creating a valid contract are an offer, acceptance, consideration, competency and legal intent.

What should you not tell a general contractor? ›

Seven Things to Never Say to a Contractor
  • Never Tell a Contractor They are the Only One Bidding on the Job. ...
  • Don't Tell a Contractor Your Budget. ...
  • Never Ask a Contractor for a Discount if You Pay Upfront. ...
  • Don't Tell a Contractor That You Aren't in A Hurry. ...
  • Do Not Let a Contractor Choose the Materials.

What is the most important part of a contractor's job? ›

Project Planning

The first duty of a building contractor is creating a project plan to deliver it on time. Some responsibilities include: Planning all crucial project development and implementation details. Determining the construction equipment and material requirements, and planning their procurement.

Which is a factor in choosing a contractor? ›

Factors to Consider in Contractor Selection

Experience with similar works. Training of staff. Method statement suitability. Risk assessment quality.

What is the purpose of a general contractor? ›

What Is a General Contractor? In short, general contractors coordinate and execute the construction of larger home projects. This person, team or firm enters into the primary contract with a property owner, and bears the responsibility of overseeing the project.

What are the three common selection methods for contractors? ›

Factors to Be Considered When Selecting Contractors

Level of industry/business-relevant experience. Familiarity with the hazards of your industry. Previous health and safety performance records.

How do you negotiate with a general contractor? ›

How to Negotiate with a Contractor
  1. Set the Right Tone. ...
  2. Talk with Previous Clients. ...
  3. Get Multiple Bids. ...
  4. Get Details in Writing. ...
  5. Be Clear About Your Budget. ...
  6. Ask for Help Trimming Costs. ...
  7. Be Creative About Reducing the Price Tag. ...
  8. Know Who to Call if Things Go Sideways.
10 Jun 2021

How do you tell a contractor their price is too high? ›

Ask the contractor to explain why the price rose so dramatically from the initial estimate. He will likely say something about unexpectedly high expensive labor and materials.

Why should you hire a contractor? ›

Contractors not only have specialized knowledge but contacts with subcontractors they can hire and discounts on materials. On materials alone, contractors can save big at retailers whereas consumers will pay full price for materials.

What do people want in a contractor? ›

Home improvement contractors should always remember that they need to work on the following traits to make them more successful in the industry: timeliness, the quality of their work, responsiveness, expertise and experience, honesty, friendliness towards the client, cost of services, proximity, and online reviews.

What is good quality in construction? ›

At its core, quality in construction means that a project is completed within the defined guidelines set out in the Scope of Work. This document serves as a set of guardrails for the project based on the owner's expectations, and sheds light on how to execute the project in a way that meets these standards.

What are five factors that can determine the quality of a construction project? ›

Factors Affecting Construction Project Quality
  • Project Requirements. Quality of any construction project is meeting the respective project requirements. ...
  • Construction Organisation. ...
  • Quality Teams. ...
  • Participation of Team Members.
3 Mar 2012

How do you judge quality of construction? ›

7 Ways To Check And Measure Construction Quality
  1. Investigate the soil. The quality and type of soil on which the building is built are very crucial. ...
  2. Determine the structure design. ...
  3. Check the concrete mix. ...
  4. Inspect the wall thickness. ...
  5. Ensure safety features. ...
  6. Look for paint and plastering quality. ...
  7. Examine the elevators.
4 Dec 2018

How can I save money when hiring a contractor? ›

A great way to save money with a general contractor is to offer to buy some of the high-priced finish items yourself. For contractors, buying some products are more trouble than they are worth. It can take a lot of time to put together some of the orders for materials and the markup doesn't always even cover the cost.

What are the five basic workplace skills? ›

Top 5 Skills Employers Look For
  • Critical thinking and problem solving.
  • Teamwork and collaboration.
  • Professionalism and strong work ethic.
  • Oral and written communications skills.
  • Leadership.

What are 4 responsibilities task of construction laborers? ›

Laborer duties and responsibilities

Cleaning and preparing construction sites. Loading and unloading materials and equipment. Building and taking down scaffolding and temporary structures. Digging trenches, compacting earth and backfilling holes.

What are the five general types of questions that an interviewer can ask? ›

These five different types of interview questions will help you become a more successful hiring manager by helping you design a better interview.
  • Behavioural Questions. ...
  • Communication Questions. ...
  • Opinion Questions. ...
  • Performance-Based Questions. ...
  • Brainteasers.

What should I ask a contractor before signing a contract? ›

Check the contractor license number at www.cslb.ca.gov to make sure it is current and in good standing. Ask to see the contractor's pocket license and a current photo ID. Ask for a list of current contact information (telephone number and business address) for the contractor, subcontractors, and suppliers.

How do I get the best out of contractors? ›

10 Tips for long term successful contracting
  1. Deliver. Deliver. ...
  2. Build your relationship with the client. ...
  3. Don't charge too much. ...
  4. Don't charge too little. ...
  5. Communicate your achievements. ...
  6. Make time for learning. ...
  7. Don't burn yourself out. ...
  8. Network with other contractors.
6 Oct 2017

What is the safest way to pay a contractor? ›

Paying through a credit card is usually the safest and the most effective way of paying your contractor. You can organize your credit card payments into convenient installments through direct deposit. It also provides more substantial proof that you've paid your contractor how much and when.

Should you tell a contractor your budget? ›

If you have ever asked yourself if you should provide your contractor with a remodel budget, the answer is YES. Remodeling contractors ask you for your budget for several reasons, all of which are meant to help you.

What are the 7 stages of construction? ›

Here's the process:
  • Step 1: Design. During this phase, the client places a project for bidding. ...
  • Step 2: Pre-Construction. ...
  • Step 3: Procurement. ...
  • Step 4: Construction. ...
  • Step 5: Commissioning. ...
  • Step 6: Owner Occupancy. ...
  • Step 7: Project Closeout.

How do you tell a contractor they won a bid? ›

Email (Don't Call) Turning down a contractor via phone puts you both on the spot. It also opens the door for emotions, which could easily turn a well-intentioned conversation sour. By writing your thoughts in an email, you can perfect the message and avoid any potential awkwardness.

What would be your factors for selecting a favorable contractor? ›

To help narrow your search, we've outlined five factors to consider when choosing a contractor for your building project.
  • On-time Delivery. Delays are expensive. ...
  • Reputation & Recommendations. A contractor's reputation is one of their most valuable assets. ...
  • Communication. ...
  • Quality of Work. ...
  • Customer Service.

What are the factors to be considered when selecting forms in construction? ›

Factors to Consider When Choosing Construction Material
  • Sturdiness.
  • Durability.
  • Cost of Material.
  • Availability in the Market.
  • Climate.
  • Required Skills.
  • Sustainability.
  • Visual Appeal.

What is the most important factor in the construction industry? ›

Operating Management

The ability to manage the business efficiently is the most important factor, particularly to deal with tightening competition. The ability to reduce costs and optimize efficiency are highly incorporated in the rating consideration.

What are the five 5 Factors to Consider for us to build a harmonious contractor client relationship? ›

Blog
  • 5 Ways to Build Strong Contractor/Client Relationships. ...
  • Communicate Regularly. ...
  • Provide Details. ...
  • Keep Things Positive. ...
  • Listen and Teach. ...
  • Use Technology to Your Advantage.
12 Apr 2017

What makes a successful contractor? ›

People that are skilled, reliable, diligent and proud of their work and their company. Competent people are essential. Good people help create a good reputation, they build relationships with clients and they attract good people.

What is contractor selection method? ›

Contractor selection is the process of choosing the most appropriate contractor to execute the project under consideration. In essence, it is considered a crucial part of the construction process as it affects the progress and success of any project.

What are the 3 best properties in selecting a good construction material? ›

The following are some factors that one should consider while deciding construction materials:
  • Cost. When looking for various construction materials, one will realize that the rate varies extensively. ...
  • Climate. ...
  • Durability. ...
  • Availability. ...
  • Sustainability. ...
  • Maintenance. ...
  • Aesthetic Appeal. ...
  • Performance.

What are the 3 factors that affect construction? ›

Three Critical Factors for Construction Project Success
  • Early involvement.
  • Qualification-based selection.
  • Cost transparency.
19 Nov 2015

Which are the 4 most important responsibilities of construction engineers? ›

Construction Engineer Responsibilities:

Managing the planning and design stages of construction projects. Contributing technical expertise to project drawings and designs. Performing cost calculations and preparing financial projections. Preparing work schedules in collaboration with the project manager.

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