Often I am asked, “How do I find a good general contractor?”
There are many things to look for, and a few red flags to watch out for. Here are some basic guidelines:
Whether you are planning a complete addition to your house or simply installing some new windows, it pays to do your homework before hiring a general contractor in Seattle. Odds are, your home is your most valuable asset. It makes sense to spend a little time researching a person or company you will be allowing work in and around your home.
Home improvement contractors and general contractors in Seattle often advertise heavily. You might see ads in the newspapers, the Yellow Pages and on the radio and TV. All this advertising does not necessarily mean they do quality work. The easiest and sometimes the most effective first step is to talk to your friends and neighbors. Ask anyone you know who has had work done on their homes about their experience with the contractor who did the work. Often this is the best research. Your friends will be unbiased since they are not trying to sell you anything. Another possibility is your local chamber of commerce. Put together a list of potential candidates using these and other resources.
Next, you need to know exactly what you want done. Get specific. Use dimensions of rooms, windows and doors. Specify materials for floor and wall finishes. Put together at least rough plans or sketches so everyone is working from the same page.
Contact 3 or 4 of the general contractors of Seattle on your list and meet with them individually. Make sure they can handle the work you want done. Be clear on your schedule and ask if they can meet it. Ask for 3 references from past clients. Call these people and ask them about their experience with the general contractor in Seattle. If possible, visit their home to look first hand at the quality of work the contractor does. People that have had major remodels done are quite often proud to show off their new homes.
Call at least 3 contractors from your list and ask them for a formal quote. Be sure they all see exactly the same plans and specifications. Remember do not automatically go for the lowest bidder. An unusually low bid may mean he is inexperienced or even desperate for work. Take a close look at the bids or quotes. Make sure they include everything you discussed and expect to be done.
It is also important that you have decent rapport or “chemistry” with your contractor. You will be seeing a lot of each other in the next few months. There will be some challenges. The candidates’ level of commitment is also important. Find out if he will have other jobs ongoing while your job is underway. If he will not be on-site, find out who will be. Ask to meet this foreman.
Ask for the general contractor’s license number. Verify their insurance and bonding claims by calling the insurance carrier or contacting the state board.
When you choose a general contractor of Seattle area you think you want to work with, it is time to get a written contract. Super Important. Make sure everything you have agreed on is covered in the contract. Including: the work to be done, the cost of the job, payment schedule, estimated completion date and provisions for change orders.
If you follow these steps you will have the best chance of coming off with a positive home improvement project experience.
Rating: 4 out of 5