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General Contractors

Hiring the right general contractor

General contractor and clients
A qualified general contractor can save time
and money on your project.

Getting a good general contractor can make all the difference in the overall quality, scheduling, and cost of your project. Your general contractor knows the laws and codes and can organize subcontractors and negotiate lowest costs. Most important, they can save you time and money by avoiding costly mistakes.

The following questions can help you qualify the general contractor for your project.

Question What to look for
Can you supply a copy of your contractor´s license, insurance coverage, and workers´ comp insurance?
The contractor should be able to provide copies. Make sure the license is current and that the insurance coverage extends over the projected term of your project. Call the contractor´s board for your state to verify that the contractor is in good standing.
What kind of general contracting experience do you have?
How long a general contractor has been in business is not necessarily an indication of quality or effectiveness. Get references. Ask to see projects completed or in progress so you can judge whether this is a good fit.
Have you or your partners built under another name?
Make sure the general contractor has not done business in another state, then bailed leaving angry customers behind, only to change his name and start over in your neighborhood.
Can I get a copy of your contract?
Read the contract and watch for any terminology that appears to restrict your rights.
What warranties do you offer?
The warranty policies should be spelled out clearly in the contract.
How will my project be supervised?
Will the GC supervise the project himself or assign a site supervisor? Controlling subcontractors is essential to a successful project, so a commitment to good oversight is vital.
How do you handle change orders?
How much the GC charges for change orders as well as how often he initiates them, is important to know before you sign the contract. How many does he initiate per project on average? A few is okay. A lot is a red flag.
Who are your subcontractors?
There are two good reasons for knowing who the subs will be on your project. If you know who the subcontractors are you can make sure that they are reputable and do good work, AND you can verify before the end of the project that they´ve been paid. Not much is worse than being hit with a "mechanic´s lien" and having to pay twice for the project!

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