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- Hire someone you can trust: A good GC will use quality materials, techniques, and act with integrity. Do your research. Ask for references, check with the Better Business Bureau. If you’re already making plans with an architect or inspector that you trust, ask them for a list of quality contractors that they often work with. Find someone with an excellent reputation and strong track record in the community. Find someone you have a good rapport with that will be on the job site regularly and available to you if there are problems.
- Choose a GC that fits your style and personality: If you like a personal approach, a small one-crew company might be just right for you. The crew may do most of the work themselves and use relatively few subcontractors – usually better for specialized, or very customized work. If you want speed, efficiency, and professionalism, a larger more corporate outfit might suit you better.
- Request their certificate of insurance.
- Meet with and interview potential GS’s: ask how many jobs like this have you completed? What is your average cost per square foot for a project like this? Who will supervise the construction site? Who will I be working with the most once we start? What work will your employees do, opposed to subcontractors? What efforts do you take to keep the job site clean and safe? How do you prefer to work: competitive bid, cost-plus, negotiated price, or other? Do you have a warranty program and what does it look like?
- Bid your project: If you have detailed specs for your project, provide them to a few GC’s. When requesting 2-3 estimates you must ensure that all contractors get the same information and understand your expectations for quality.
- Lowest bidder isn’t always the best choice: Don’t expect to the get the best job from the low bidder. If one bidder is significantly below the others, either he is making a mistake (often due to inexperience), is planning to make up the difference in change orders or is at risk of losing his shirt and may end up cutting corners or even walking off the job.