So you want to build a new home, or make a large renovation to your existing one. Congratulations, this is an exciting time, but it can also be a nerve-wracking one. Who are you going to get to oversee the building construction? Who is going to make sure you are not being overcharged? Who is going to make sure that your house meets building codes and is of high quality? Well the answer to those questions are easy… you need a General Contractor (GC).
What is the more troubling question, and a far harder one to answer is: How do you find a general contractor you can trust?
Sadly, there are some bad apples in every batch. Not every used car salesman is a crook, not every mechanic takes advantage of his customer’s lack of knowledge and certainly not every general contractor is out to overcharge you. However, you need to be prepared to separate the wheat from the chaff and find a GC that has your best interests at heart. To do this is not very hard.
What follows are three great resources for you to help find the right GC for your project. You should do all three.
1. Word of Mouth and the Internet
Who do you trust more, the ad you read in the Sunday paper, or the word of a previous customer. Through the use Internet searches, social media searches and by talking to friends and friends of friends, you can find out a lot. More importantly, if a friend or someone else close to you had work done, you can visually inspect the quality of the job and ask them about the process. Your friends will be unlikely to have an agenda and will not want to see you make a bad choice
2. Angie’s List
Visit Angie’s List online and search for general contractors in your area. Angie’s list is a site that allows customers to write reviews and reports on the projects completed for them. Businesses (which includes carpenters, plumbers, mechanics, general contractors etc…) are not allowed to post reviews. This is a consumer to consumer perspective. I can attest to the legitimacy of the site and in fact, there is a small charge to use the site to ensure that the reviews are not the work of random people looking to mess with a businesses reputation.
3. Better Business Bureau
Finally, after you have narrowed down your list of potential general contractors, check your local chapter of the Better Business Bureau to see if there have been any complaints against the builder or company you are considering. This will be a good indicator if there have been any lawsuits or negative reports about the work performed.
After completing the three steps above, be sure to meet and interview the general contractor. Ask pointed questions about billing, scheduling, markups, how they select sub contractors etc and in general get a “feel” for them. Listen to your gut and be sure not to get sold by fancy packaging.
Do your homework as outlined above and you can be sure to have a much better experience.