Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Tips for Selecting and Contracting a Home Remodeling General Contractor

If you are considering a home remodeling project for your property, most remodeling projects involve either structural or aesthetic aspects of which might require several specialized technical skills. If this is the case, save yourself the headache and enlist the services of a general contractor. Many people think that they can act as their own contractor, however, when knee deep into the work, they usually realize that the work has not gone as they planned. To hire a contractor mid-way through a job, will cost more, as the contractor will have to work backwards to fix and remedy the situation.
A general contractor's job is to negotiate the contract for the entire remodeling project, and either completes the specialized work with his own crew or sub-contracts to other various house remodeling contractors. Some of the specialized areas might include, planning /architecture, concrete, plumbing, electrical, roofing, dry wall, cabinetry or painting. Most contractors, even when subbing out the various trades, have worked with their subs for long periods of time, and a relationship and trust has already been obtained between the subcontractors and the general contractor. This always makes a job run smoother.
To get an accurate bid from a potential general contractor, it is very important to plan carefully, with much thought and consideration. You may want to involve an architect or draftsman to generate the blueprints for your project. Remember that any home remodeling features not included in the plans will not be included in the cost. A general contractor is not a mind reader. This is where extras and change orders usually occur. Otherwise know as "unexpected expenses" - which could potentially make you go above budget.
Once you have detailed plans for your project, you need to start the selection process for a general contractor. Be upfront about your expectations, provide your contractor with a set of plans and request they be realistic about time, cost and interruption factors. It is not wise to make a selection based on price alone, other considerations are equally important.
Experience and references is something you would like to address with your contractor. Will they simultaneously be working on other projects at the same time as yours. How much time will they be supervising on the job per day? A contractor will usually not be present on the job for the entire day, as he is normally supervising other jobs as well. However, you should see the contractor once or twice a day, it is their job to make sure progress is being made and the job is kept neat and clean. The contractor will typically come once or twice a day to inspect all work. Always ask about license and insurance, this is a must, especially in Florida. You have the ability, online, to always check the General Contractors license. Here you will find any complaints made about the contractor or if he/she license is in good standing.
When negotiating the contract for your home remodeling project remember that a reliable contractor will agree to contract terms that will protect the interest of both parties. It is fairly common for a contractor to ask for 10-33% of the estimated cost in advance, most contracts provide for payment as work progresses.
If you will require the services of both a contractor and designer, which is common, get them together as a team as early in the project as possible. Each party can benefit from the other's experience and expertise. Not only will the project itself go more smoothly, but the end result will bet the best possible. Checking and notifying neighbors is always a respectable thing to do. Let them know that you will have multiple working vehicles parked along the road. Some of the noise may be loud and dirt and clutter may be unavoidable at times. This will prevent the workers from being interrupted and delayed. Keep in mind that with renovations, any home owner who is still living in the house, that inconveniences and disruptions of daily routine are unavoidable, so should be expected. Let the workers work, the mess will be cleaned daily.
Things to be wary of when reviewing estimates:
  • Contractors that request large deposits "to buy materials." Established, reputable contractors maintain charge accounts with their suppliers.
  • Requests complete payment up front (this should never happen)
  • Accepts only cash payments
  • Contractors who are vague. Demand detailed, written bids and contracts that specify in detail the project, materials used, and work to be performed. (Keep in mind, the contractor cannot give you this information until you have picked out all of the material you wish to use, flooring, roof tile, appliances, cabinets. Prices vary to greatly to guesstimate)
  • Pressures you for a quick hiring decision or offers a discount for an on the spot hiring.
  • Requests that you obtain the building permits
  • Contractors who provide you with a P.O. box instead of a physical address, and a telephone answering service instead of their own telephone number for contact purposes.

These are some tips to help you help yourself when entering a remodel project. Always remember to ask questions and to also provide your contractor with the necessary information so he can assist you as much as possible. Your results will speak for themselves!


  1. Those were some awesome tips. Thank keep them coming.

  2. Thanks for sharing tips about Remodeling Contractors in Palm Beach County with beautiful images.
    Remodeling Contractors in Palm Beach County