Most medium and large construction jobs are handled by a general contractor and you must know what are the techniques to hire a reliable one. The general contractor may be called a builder, building contractor, remodeling contractor, etc. What makes him a “general” contractor is that he enters into a contract with the owner to complete a project and takes full responsibility to get the job done for the bid price. In general, he purchases the materials, hires the tradespeople, and brings in subcontractors to get the work done. The subcontractors are responsible to the general contractor, not to you, the owner.
Ask Around for a Reliable General Contractor
Whichever way you go, there are no guarantees in life – or in construction. You got to hire someone you can trust to do good work. So really ask around, check with the Better Business Bureau, and check references. Find someone with an excellent reputation and strong track record in the community. Find someone you have a good rapport with. Find out if the general contractor will be on the job site regularly and will be available to you if there are problems.
Choose a General Contractor who Understands your Style and Personality
If you like a warm and personal approach, a small one-crew company might be just right for you. The contractor may be on the job daily swinging a hammer. The crew may do most of the work themselves and use relatively few subcontractors – usually better for finicky, specialized, or very customized work. If you want speed, efficiency, and professionalism, a larger more corporate outfit might suit you better.
Check for the Features Provided by the General Contractor
By that I mean, make sure the specs provided by the contractor are sufficiently detailed and complete and will meet your expectations for quality (you can get a second opinion from a construction manager or architect if you’re not sure). Make sure the bid is realistic – that allowances are adequate for the materials you will probably choose. Ask to see certificates of insurance. Read the contract carefully – have it checked by your lawyer if it seems too murky or one-sided.
Look a for a Good Bidder
Finally, do not expect to the get the best job from the low bidder. If one bidder is significantly below the others, either he is making a mistake often due to inexperience, is planning to make up the difference in change orders, or is at risk of losing his shirt and may end up cutting corners or even walking off the job.