Spring is in the air, which means home improvement is probably on your mind. After a long, cold winter of hibernation and drafting plans for home improvement projects, now is the perfect time to “spring” into action by putting those plans into action. Even if you’re a talented do-it-yourselfer (DIYer) or experienced weekend warrior, there are certain home improvement projects that should never, ever be attempted at home and are better left to a professional general contractor.
Examples include electrical and plumbing projects, many of which require the skilled hand — and eye — of a professionally trained electrician or plumbing services. Often times, you may not think you’re in need of a plumber or an electrician but pretty soon you end up way in over your head, knee deep in you know what, and having spent way more money and time on project than you wanted to. No one “likes” to say they told you so but in cases like this, a big, fat “told you so” is definitely needed. And hey, doesn’t it just feel good to say that?
But finding the right general contractor presents its own set of challenges and concerns, especially if you’re starting from scratch. Luckily, there are a variety of tips, tools, resources, and guides that can help you find a general contractor that’s best for your construction projects at your home. Here’s how you can get started.
Understand the scope of your project
This may seem pretty obvious but many people make the mistake of hiring the wrong kind of contractor for a home project that should have been completed by an electrician, plumbing contractor, or HVAC contractor. Your home improvement project may require the expertise of more than one professional, including a general contractor. It’s important to first take stock of your project and determine if you truly have the budget for hiring multiple professionals.
Get some referrals
Now that you know exactly what your home improvement project entails, you can move onto the next step and start asking around about general contractors in your area. Many people feel more comfortable getting a personal referral from someone they know and trust, such as a neighbor, family member, or friend. Don’t forget the power of word of mouth! In fact, many general contractors rely on the power of word of mouth for business referrals. You can also browse customer comments and complaints online to get a better picture of who you’re working with.
Interview potential matches
Finding a general contractor is kind of like finding a date; you really want to make sure you know who you’re dealing before you invite them into your home! No one wants to end up with an unfinished project or a general contractor that’s difficult to work with, so the best thing you can do is to do your research and ask questions and lots of them. Be sure to ask how long they’ve been in business, who the project supervisor will be if one is required, if all the appropriate employees carry the right kinds of insurance and licenses, if they belong to any professional associations, and last but not least, if they have any references you can contact.
Be wary of red flags
A professional general contractor should always be just that,professional! They should never be threatened or offended by the questions you’re asking them (especially ones regarding professional licenses and insurance) and they should never pressure you to approve changes that are far beyond the original scope of the project. Certain unexpected things may come up, but if you feel that your contractor is being a little too pushy then it’s important to go with your gut.
Get multiple bids
If a bid sounds too good to be true then it probably is — unfortunately. Keep in mind that the lowest price isn’t always the best choice, so it’s important to get multiple bids. Getting at least three different bids will help you get a better idea of what the general mark up is and how fair a contractor really is.
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