How to Hire a General Contractor: Checklist and Tips

Posted on October 22, 2021

As you plan your next construction project, choosing the right general contractor is a critical first step within your planning process. To avoid any disruptions throughout the process, you ought to find the best fit for your project, spell out in writing their duties and their payments, and agree upon the specific scope of the project.

Hiring a Contractor Checklist

In this checklist, you will find several tips you ought to keep in mind as you embark on hiring a general contractor.

Have Several Bids

After getting the referrals from associates and searching online, you should then reduce the number to just the top three contractors. From there, ask for both time and cost estimates for your project. Once you have this information from these top candidates, you can then compare the material and see who best understands the project as you had presented it.

Seek Licensed Contractors

Cutting corners in construction is the best way to lose money. One of the ways this happens is when you fail to take advantage of hiring a licensed contractor. As a project manager, having a licensed contractor means that even when something goes wrong, you can easily get in touch with them. What’s more, local regulations require that you hire professionals with the proper documentation.

If you decide on hiring locally, it is vital that the contractor has a local address. Consider visiting their facility before signing a contract as trusting a contractor that simply goes door-to-door could be disastrous in the end.

Ask How Their Insurance Works

A cardinal rule in construction is that you should never hire a contractor that does not have proper and updated insurance cover. This is particularly since with every construction zone, there are likely going to be accidents. When the contractor does not have the right insurance, you become liable for any damage or injury incurred. Besides, this puts you at a risk of facing legal action.

Therefore, consider asking the contractor for their insurance details. This is an intentional step in the right direction.

Be Careful With Paying Upfront

At no point throughout the negotiations should you accept to pay for the entire project upfront. Stay on course with the usual one-third payment of the overall cost. What’s more, be keen about keeping receipts of any payment you make.

To protect yourself in the event that you are unsatisfied with the service offered, include a cancellation window within your contract with the general contractor. With this clause, you are sure that you will incur no penalties even when you want to get out of the contract.

Get Everything in Writing

Throughout the finding and hiring of the general contractor, you want to have everything in writing. This means that you have to secure a comprehensive contract that details the work to be completed and the price of each item, the payment schedule, including what is to be a pain when the work is partially completed and upon completion. What’s more, make a comprehensive list of any applicable guarantees and include signatures from both parties.

Where to Find Candidates

Hiring a contractor is often nerve-wrecking. It is because of how overwhelming this task seems that we have created a checklist full of tips that should guide you through getting of a contractor for your project.

Start With Referrals

Realistically, the first step towards finding a referral is often word of mouth. This is, at its core, the traditional referral way through which you get to learn about contractors who do a great job from friends, family, and other associates. Overall, you can sufficiently lean into your personal and professional networks to find both capable and handy workers. You want to be sure that the person being referred has, in fact, done some work for the person doing the referral. This saves you from the possible headache that is referrals based on personal relationships instead of merit.

Search Online

In the perfect setting, you would have a small black book that had the names and contact information of reliable contractors. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Still, it helps along with the process is a host of websites created to specifically match you with contractors that could provide you with top-notch service at a reasonable rate.

The downside is that you then have to search through a plethora of websites to find the perfect fit for you. This is without a doubt a daunting endeavor, given that some of these will have at least 300 professional categories. A great tip would be to look out for websites that vet these professionals based on the previous client’s experiences.

Part of also searching online would be doing a local search on a search engine of contractors who have worked in Charleston construction companies South Carolina. The yield of this search is likely going to be individuals advertising themselves for jobs in North Charleston.

These individuals will often provide a description of their previous works and specializations. When you reach out, you can have them provide a rough quote for the work you want to get done. In actuality, this way, you get to interact with a larger pool of local contractors.

Questions To Ask Before Hiring

Before committing to a single contractor, there are questions you should consider asking. For starters, you want to ask how long they have been working under the specific specialization you were looking for. What’s more, it would be prudent to inquire what experience they have with the current project you are embarking on.

To be on the safer side with the law, you want to ask them what necessary permits or licenses they have. Go ahead and also inquire about whether they are insured. Finally, you should also ask for a cost breakdown as well as a timeline for the project. These last inquiries should be able to provide you with adequate information on whether the general contractor is a good fit for you.

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