With so many general contractors (over 27,000 in the US according to the Associated General Contractors of America,) how do you find the right one for you? You can easily narrow down this pool based on location, project size and specialty, but there are other factors to consider. That’s why we’re sharing our guide on how to find a good general contractor.
Ensure Honesty from the Start
Regardless of planning, unexpected hiccups happen, and when they do, you want to have an upfront, honest general contractor ready to provide a solution. Whether there’s an easy way to trim costs, or an unforeseen issue, a good general contractor should be able to navigate any unexpected bumps along the project.
Advice in Action
Project Manager David Hesser and his superintendent put this into play while overseeing an 18-day remodel for a large coffee chain. When they arrived on site, they noticed an immediate issue: the store’s underground piping was 95% clogged with grease and debris. They knew that removing years of build-up wouldn’t be an easy fix and immediately jumped into action, alerting the client of the unforeseen problem. They worked to provide the best solution they could to keep the project moving while also fixing a terrible issue for the client.
Through coordination, communication and extra effort, they ensured smooth delivery for all parties. This short-term setback resulted in a long-term solution that prevented further issues. By being upfront and honest about timeline, budget and consequences, the client, owner and subcontractors were all satisfied.
From the start, take note of how the general contractor communicates. Do they promptly respond to emails and phone calls or are you left asking for details? When evaluating general contractors ask about how they share project updates, changes and approvals. A good general contractor will seamlessly communicate with you, subcontractors, and vendors in a timely matter, preparing schedules that are kept and pushing the project to completion. No question should go without reply for longer than 24 hours when working with a reputable contractor, even if it is just to acknowledge the question and inform the client you are working on providing answers. They need to not only respond to your needs, but also clearly inform other involved parties.
Check Team Member Experience & Client Portfolio
Both the team members’ experience and the company’s overall portfolio give you important insight into the general contractor’s capabilities. Start by looking at the team members you’ll be directly working with and ask questions. How long have they been in the industry? What type of projects do they typically work on? Then, look at the company. Who are their clients? Where are these projects located? What size are their typical projects? A good general contractor should either have this information listed online or they should be able to quickly provide a list. If you have a retail project, you don’t want to seek out a general contractor whose only focus is residential. Make sure your team and your contractor have the necessary experience to bring your vision to life.
Subcontractors are extremely important because they are the individuals trusted to carry out your project. If your general contractor works with lazy, expensive subcontractors, you won’t have the same quality of work as a general contractor who chooses reliable, timely subs. If something does go awry, it is important the subcontractor provides full insight of a change order and why it’s necessary. Most general contractors won’t share a full list of their subcontractors, but you should be able to ask questions about how they handle problems, select their subcontractors and ensure the work is carried out in accordance to client specifications.
Examine Job Sites
While you don’t want to show up unannounced, you can ask for project photos and references from past clients. It’s important that your general contractor keeps a clean, organized job site. This not only prevents any safety issues, but it also ensures the project remains running smoothly.
As the “go-to guy” your general contractor will be one of your most important points of contact. They will ensure your project meets your specifications and is completed on budget and time. A good general contractor isn’t difficult to find, but you will want to do your homework. If you’re ready to take the next steps in selecting your general contractor, let’s chat!