Tips on Hiring a General Contractor

For most people, the prospect of hiring a general contractor can be dauting. You of course want a good contractor, and it’s easy to find one. The hard part is making sure that you’re getting a good general contractor who can do the job, and won’t fleece you along the way.

Of course, it can go the other way around as well. There are certainly clients who are looking for general contractors that are new to the industry and just starting out, thinking that they can take advantage of the lack of experience and get a great deal. The secret to success here is not taking advantage of somebody, but finding someone who wants to do good business for you and you can do good business with them. So today is the message is the rules of engagement when hiring a contractor?

Let’s face it, sometimes hiring a contractor is kind of like kind of going to war. It is a really interesting world that you have to navigate out there as a homeowner. So I got a bunch of really cool rules and advice for you, hopefully to help you out. So you have a successful renovation at your place and you don’t become a victim and endure all that stress. So let’s jump into this. OK, so I’m going to go through my list. Some of these things will seem obvious to some of them won’t. And of course, the obvious things will be different for everybody based on your life experience. So I don’t want to be remiss and avoid something.

Get Everything in Writing

That’s what I would think would be obvious. But no one signed a contract.

But don’t just sign a contract, sign it at home. Most jurisdictions nowadays and municipalities and provinces and states have got some sort of consumer protection rules involved where if you sign a contract at home, there’s a period of time available that you can get out of it without having the person keep your money.

In some states, if you sign a contract at home, you’ve got a full seven days to change your mind and get your deposit back. It’s one of the things to consider to get a well built house.

Who knew if you signed up the fancy office where they’ve got the boardroom set up in the glass and cappuccino machine, you know, and somebody’s moving all over you? Oh, here’s your pen. Listen, as soon as that ink dry as you’re done, you can’t change your mind if you sign in their office. But you can change your mind if you sign at home and things change.

Not too often that that happens. But sometimes when you’re in the middle of a sales process, these people are really good at making you feel comfortable. And then when you get away from it all and you have time to think, you get the nervousness in their belly, you got that. I don’t really like it feeling listening to it and act on it. All right. If it doesn’t feel good, but your gut is probably going to turn up at the next point is don’t forget the details.

Your contract shouldn’t just have. Hey, Joe Blow is going to show up and fix the bathroom. Here’s the number. Here’s the total cost.

The contract should be what materials he’s using, what processes he’s using, what materials he’s supplying that have a warranty and any other pertinent detail that you want to have in that contract to protect both parties. Remember, contract is not just for you or just for them. It’s for both of you. So you should both be comfortable with what’s written in there. The other key factor to remember is usually the contractor brings the contract to the party.

And having said that, that means the contract has been designed to protect all of their interests and none of yours. So make sure you read it.

Add details to the contract that you think are important for you. You’re allowed to do this. It’s a negotiation. It’s not a one way street. If anybody says no, you can’t add anything into there, you can just say, that’s fine, we’re done here. I’ll find someone who is going to do business the way I want to do business. And that usually changes their mind. Number three, make sure you’ve included the timeline, a date when they start and a date when they can be finished.

Contract law is really interesting. There’s always more rules behind the scenes and even know exists. For instance, for us, if I put down August 1st is my start date, I have thirty days to start that contract from that date without being in default.

Manage Your Expectations

According to the law. Good for everybody to know. Manage your expectations. The contractor says August 1st in the contract and he’s not there for a couple of weeks. Sometimes it’s just because life happens and he’s trying to finish up another job, maybe ran into problems, maybe had to fire a foreman who knows. But manage expectations. Don’t be so hard on people who are running a business to expect them to jump through hoops and keep all the details of the contract together.

The law’s flexible for a reason. Life happens. You got thirty days to start and you’ve also got thirty days from the finish date to finish the contract. So that’s good information to have.

It may not be the same everywhere. If you have differences in your contract situations, hit the comment section below.

Provide All Necessary Information

Give us a state or a country where you live and let us know what your experiences are. Next thing you need to know about hiring a contractor is about referrals. There are a waste of time, most people today can hire people to give them referrals online or they can have referrals available from previous situations where the company was in different standing or someone had really low expectations and really love these guys. The point is, if you want a referral, get the information about where they’re working today and go and see that customer.

That’s the best information you have available if they’re not willing to give that to you.

Red flag, anybody who’s proud of their work and is doing a good job will be more than happy to have you on the job site to talk to the homeowner. And if you’re a homeowner and there’s a contractor in your home, understand, that could be part of the arrangement. It should actually be in the contract that you expect a homeowner to be available to talk to potential clients. All right. Having all that understood in the beginning makes life really simple, makes life really simple.

So you don’t have a complicated situation moving forward. That’s awkward. My next tip is to go investigate. Don’t just go talk to the homeowner, have a look around the job, see if the quality of the product that they’re putting together is the kind of thing that you’re expecting. Remember, lots of different homeowners have different expectations with the quality of a finish. All right.

Do a Site Visit

So if it’s in early phases, check to see, is the site clean? Are they organized? Do they have their tools to organize? Are the materials organized? Is the site protection the way that you want them to treat your home?

All these little details are important, and a quick site visit can really define whether or not you’re happy moving forward. And then before they start the contract, make sure you go back one more time and see the finished product. And the reason I’m a stickler on this is I know lots of guys in the trades. And generally speaking, if you’re on my channel and you’re looking for advice, you’re not in the top 20 percent of income earners. You can’t hire the best firm in town.

You’re going to be dealing with a lot of guys who are just making a living skilled trades. And sometimes they are in good shape in their life and sometimes they’re not.

Life happens to all of us. And a guy can have great online referrals and recommendations and his wife could leave them next week.

And when he shows up at your job, he’s a disaster and he’s back on a bender and he’s going to be a disaster for you. So keep up to date, make sure you visit the site for the most recent project and you really minimize the risk of running into trouble. The last bit of advice I have is this.

Be Realistic

No, your own expectations so you can manage. OK, managing yourself. Most homeowners have an idea in their mind of what a relationship with a contractor should look like. And they get that idea of usually from TV they’re going to show up, they’re going to be well dressed, they’re going to be clean, they’re going to be done in thirty minutes and they’re going to be gone.

Not realistic. All right. You need to manage your expectations when you’re talking to your contractor. Find out if you’re a good fit. I know lots of guys out there who are very efficient and there are production minded. Right. They just get things done, but they’re not the most detail oriented people in the world. So if you’re somebody who wants to get some custom work done, you’re looking for really nice finishes. You’re looking for a little finesse, a little bit more on the skill and artisan area.

And the guy you’re hiring has eight thousand happy customers, but they all wanted a cookie cutter semi custom bathroom and now you’re hiring him to do a fully custom bathroom. It might be the wrong fit because there are lots of guys who are production oriented and then there are craftsmen who take their sweet time but make things perfect. All right. There are three things you got to manage the budget, the timeline and the quality. You can’t get the best price in the shortest amount of time made to perfection.

It does not exist.

You can get it fast and you can get it cheap.

But it’s going to look like junk, you can get it cheap and you can get it perfect, but it’s going to take forever because he’s going to come and fill the holes in the schedule or you can get it really amazing at a great price.

Now, since you can’t get all three, you’ve got to decide what battle you want to fight.

Remember, if you sit down with the contractor and he makes a presentation and says, here’s how much it’s going to be for this job, one thing he’s not going to do with you is negotiate the price.

And if he’s negotiating the price at the same time, he’s negotiating the quality that is going to give you and the time frame he’s going to give you.

So realize that that’s happening. It’s not just price. You might think it’s expensive, but understanding what it costs to run a business nowadays is paramount. All right. Almost half of every dollar you give this guy is going to go to the government in one form or another. So he’s not trying to rip you off. It’s just a really expensive world to do business and understand that moving in. OK, consider doing some DIY, do half and half.

Have some input, because I remember when I was in contracting, there were a lot of things that we would have loved to have had available to us to help protect us from some of the bad homeowners that are out there. Yes, it’s true. There are bad contractors and there are great contractors and there are good and bad homeowners as well. So to help everybody manage expectations and help create an environment where business can be conducted in a civilized manner, maybe there’s a need for intervention. If you are still looking for a great general contractor, contact us at Coachella Valley Construction.