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Questions To Ask Your General Contractor Before Hiring Them

Embarking on a home improvement journey can be exciting. You may want to remodel your kitchen, add a new bathroom, or undertake a larger renovation project as a real estate investor. Finding a reliable general contractor and other home improvement professionals is essential to ensure success. This decision can impact the outcome of your project, your satisfaction as a homeowner, and even the value of your real estate.

Where To Start Looking for a General Contractor

The search for a good contractor often begins close to home. Start by asking friends, family, or neighbors. Seek those who recently completed a home improvement or commercial real estate project. Real estate agents and, in some cases, lenders are also valuable resources. Realtors often have connections with contractors in the real estate industry.

Don't overlook the power of due diligence on social media and online platforms. You can find reviews and feedback from other homeowners. Aim to gather a shortlist of potential contractors or project managers to interview. This allows you to compare their expertise and suitability for your project.

Interviewing Potential Contractors

Below are a few questions to ask when interviewing potential contractors. A great contractor can answer these questions with no problem.

How long have you been in business?

Experience is a key indicator of a contractor's ability to handle your project. A contractor who has been in the business for several years will likely have a portfolio of completed projects and a list of satisfied referrals. Check their track record in the real estate industry. Don't hesitate to do a background check with the Better Business Bureau for any unresolved complaints. Remember, a clean record is a good sign, but it does not guarantee future performance.

Are you licensed and registered?

Make sure the contractor is properly licensed and registered to undertake construction work. Verify their license and check if it's up to date. This step helps ensure you're dealing with a legitimate professional independent contractor who adheres to legal and safety standards in construction.

What similar projects have you done?

Ask about specific projects similar to yours that the contractor has completed. Request a portfolio or examples of previous work. This helps you estimate their experience in flipping houses or handling your type of home improvement project. Reviewing their past work can give you confidence in their ability to deliver quality results.

What permit requirements will you handle?

Most remodeling or construction projects need permits. A full-time contractor will know about the necessary permits and the process to get them. Their willingness to handle permit requirements reflects their commitment to legal compliance and safety standards.

Can you provide a list of references?

Request a list of references or previous clients. Speaking to these clients can provide insights into the contractor's work ethic, reliability, and quality of work. Visiting an active job site can also offer a glimpse into their work process and client interaction.

Will you hire subcontractors?

Ask about the use of subcontractors. It's common for contractors to hire subcontractors like plumbers, roofing specialists, and electricians for specialized tasks. Ensure these subcontractors are also licensed and insured. This helps to protect you from potential liabilities.

What insurance coverage do you have?

Confirm that the contractor carries essential insurance policies. These include liability insurance and workers' compensation. This protects you from being held liable for accidents or injuries on the job site during your project.

Setting Clear Expectations

Before finalizing any agreement with a contractor, discuss and align expectations about payment schedules, timelines, the scope of work, and the logistics of on-site operations. This includes clean-up routines, work hours, and the main point of contact for day-to-day communications. Clear communication upfront can prevent misunderstandings and ensure a smooth workflow throughout the remodeling project.

Legal Help in Construction Projects

Most home improvement projects proceed without major issues. But disputes or problems arise sometimes. Consulting with a construction law attorney can be beneficial if you face issues like substandard work, delays, or damage to your property. They can review your situation, advise on your legal rights, and help you with any disputes or claims.

Seek Legal Guidance if You Have Questions

Selecting the right general contractor is critical in your home renovation or improvement project. By thoroughly vetting potential contractors, checking their credentials, and setting clear expectations, you can confidently embark on your project. A successful home improvement project enhances your living space and adds significant value to your real estate investment. If challenges arise, contact a construction law attorney in your area.

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