Adulthood teaches us hard lessons – like the fact that not all people treat you the way you would treat them. That’s never truer than when it comes to hiring a general contractor.
Most people don’t know the process for construction building…until after they’ve gone through it. By then, it’s too late for your wallet.
Unethical contractors often trick unsuspecting clients into hiring them, which can mean anything from delayed or botched jobs to straight-up getting ripped off when the contractor disappears with your money.
Luckily, there are ways you can protect yourself and avoid a bad building experience. Here’s everything you need to do when hiring a general contractor so you don’t get ripped off.
Best Steps For Successfully Vetting a General Contractor
Interview more than one contractor
The likelihood you will find a kitchen contractor you like increases if you speak to more than one. Talk to several about your project before you commit to anyone and don’t be afraid to ask specific questions about their processes like:
- What happens if I change my mind about something after the project has started?
- Will they have other projects going on at the same time as mine?
- How long have they worked with their subcontractors?
It’s also a good idea to provide identical information to each contractor and see what they come up with. That way, you can compare each contractor with the other in a fairway.
Your relationship with your contractor is the #1 thing that affects how your project will go. Make sure you choose someone who communicates well and makes you feel at ease.
Ask for references
The best way you can figure out if you’ll have a good experience is to talk to others who’ve had one! Ask for a list of references and a portfolio of completed projects. If the contractor you’re talking to doesn’t have this, it’s a huge red flag that they’re hiding something.
Once you get the references, follow through with contacting them. It might be tempting to skip this part if you had a great conversation already. But just because they have the gift of gab doesn’t mean they’ll deliver good work.
The bottom line is to ask for references and check them before you sign up for anything.
This type of independent feedback is even more valuable than references since contractors aren’t dying to give you access to an unhappy client.
Be careful of giving anyone review too much weight though since some people can be unreliable or exaggerate their experience. But a handful of bad reviews? That might be a good reason to go with someone else.
Make sure they’re legit
Ask the contractor if they’re licensed, bonded and insured. Accidents happen on a job site and you want to protect the workers and your property in case something happens. A contractor that carries proper insurance reduces your liability.
A licensed contractor is also a must because they’re held accountable by a licensing board. If anything goes wrong or the contractor fails to complete the work as described in the contract, you can report them.
And finally, a bonded contractor offers even more protection to you. If they fail to complete the work as agreed in the contract, you can make a claim and receive compensation. This cuts out the possibility of a contractor that will disappear with your cash since you have a way to get it back.
Get everything in writing
Finally, the most important thing is to get everything in writing. That means contracts with a line-by-line scope, receipts, checks (even canceled checks) and anything else you discuss.
It’s also a good idea to set a price schedule in writing. Watch out for contractors who want half upfront as it might be an indication they have financial problems. Or they might know you’ll be unhappy with their work once you see it.
Normally for larger projects, contractors ask for 10% at signing with evenly spaced payments throughout the rest of the project. You’ll make the final payment when the finished job meets your satisfaction.
For a great place to start, check out Hartel Homes if you’re looking for a reputable contractor in Austin, Texas.