Finding a General Contractor: The Three R's
A general contractor will quickly become your lifeline in the world of real estate. Whether you are buying a fixer-upper, maintaining multiple properties, or just need work done on your home, investing time into finding a solid contractor will be well worth your time.
Let’s focus in on the three R’s of finding a general contractor: Referrals, Research and Review.
Referrals Referrals from people that you know are the best place to start. These are people such as:
Friends & Family
A trusted Real Estate Agent
Other Contractors (good plumbers know good carpenters who know good electricians... you get the point)
Those who have worked closely with a contractor will not only know if one does stellar work, but will also likely be the first to express any red flags or bad experiences that they may have had. Eliminating poor contractors upfront will surely save you a headache down the road.
Research Now that you have a few contractors on the table to choose from, research each one. There are two steps to this research process:
Step 1: Via the Internet
Do they have a website, Facebook page or show up on Yelp? Look for ratings, reviews and photos of their work. A contractor that does good work won’t be afraid to show it off.
One thing to watch for are opinionated ratings that may not have anything to do with the contractor’s work itself. For example, a review about a price being too high could be the result of the customer not communicating clearly about pricing upfront. Look for reviews that raise red flags more along the lines of getting scammed on a price that was agreed on or poor work that had to be fixed shortly after.
Step 2: Via References
Talking with customers who have worked with contractors firsthand is a great way to learn about a contractor in more detail. They will be able to speak to working style and answer more specific questions.
Review If the contractor has passed the research phase, it is time to meet with them in person and talk logistics. Here is where it is important to ask detailed questions such as:
How do they structure their payment schedules?
Do they allow on-site shadowing days to get a good idea of how they work?
What does their workload look like per week?
Are they willing to take on an investor who has multiple properties?
Are they willing to agree on incentives for getting done early or repercussions for going over schedule?
It is also important to ask for the contractor's license number. You will need this to verify the status of their license through the state's licensing board. A contractor without the proper licensing can cause liabilities and delays costing you more time and money.
When it comes time to make your final decision, go over each contractor’s bid (and make sure that you do get bids from multiple contractors).
Look to see how detailed their bid is when you receive it. Do they list a bathroom renovation as “bathroom renovation” or do they list out, “replacing sink, replacing tub, updating shower tile, etc.?” This will be an indicator of how detailed their work will be.
Now that you know what you’re looking for... go find your handyman! Remember, they will soon become your lifeline.