Hiring a contractor can be a very difficult thing to do especially if you have never been through the construction process before. My advise is to first talk to people who been through a home remodel, room addition, kitchen or bathroom remodel, or built a custom home. Not only will they be able to give you first hand experiences (good or bad), but they will also be able to tell you what company they used (and if they would or would not recommend them). You should always get 3 competitive bids on any kind of work you are having done on your house. That way you can compare each bid and make sure they all include the scope of work you want done.
Suggestions on how to choose a contractor for a home remodel or construction project:
Check references first and go see some of the work the contractor has done. Talk to the previous clients and ask for an honest answer of their experience with the contractor. Keep in mind that a lot of these people have never been through a home renovation and probably didn’t know to expect once the project started. Educate yourself on what to expect from a home renovation. Go online, talk to friends, neighbors or co-workers that have been through the construction process before. Write down concerns you have and what you expect the contractor to deliver. See how they repsond to your questions. Remember, you are interviewing them, not the other way around. Don’t feel intimiadted if you don’t know the lingo. You are writing the checks, so if you have a question, ask. If the contractor doesn’t provide you with satisfactory answers in this interview, just imagine what will happen once he starts construction. Ask for copies of their insurance policy and contractors license with the local government. The City of San Antonio requires that all local contractors be licensed. Make sure the plumbers and electricians that the general contractor hires are licensed as well. Don’t just select the cheapest bid from your list of contractors. A low ball bid may be leaving something out. And don’t hire a roofer to remodel your home. Make sure the contractor you hire specialized the kind of work you need done to your home. It’s up to the contractor to get the necessary permits for your renovation and arrange for the inspections. Don’t let him tell you building permits and inspections are just a “waste of time”. If you are adding more than 100 square feet, moving walls, doing any kind of electrical or plumbing work, then you will most likely need some sort of building permit. Inspectors are your friends when dealing with contractors – they insure the work is done right. They make my job difficult sometimes, but it keeps everyone on their toes. Negotiate a contract and make sure that building specifications are included. “Building Specs” tell you exactly what material will be used to build your home and the brands that will be used. Don’t pay for the whole job up front. A one third payment initially and partial payments during the job are reasonable. Hold back 10% of the final payments until you are sure the contractor has paid his sub trades and after he had done the final punch list.