For those of you worried about choosing a general contractor to build your new home, feel confident in knowing that most custom home contractors are reliable, honest individuals. The very few who are not, have created an image well beyond their real numbers. To help you find the right GC for your new home, here are some very simple rules and suggestions to follow:
- Never choose a contractor based solely on lowest price.
- Always obtain more than one estimate.
- Don't rely on possible legal remedies as your protection against someone you are apprehensive about to begin with. Simply don't hire that particular contractor.
- Research their background first before hiring them. If your state has a licensing board for contractors, call to find out if there are any outstanding complaints against that license holder.
- Call your local Better Business Bureau to see if there are any complaints on file.
- Don't be afraid to thoroughly interview the contractor candidates. Ask what kind of worker's compensation insurance they carry and get their policy number and insurance company contact information so you can verify everything. If they are not covered, you could be liable for any work-related injury incurred during the project.
- Be sure that the contractor also has an umbrella general liability policy.
- Don't hire the contractor who only suggests changes that will reduce the price-and possibly the quality-or the contractor who does the opposite and only makes suggestions that will result in expensive changes.
- Choose a contractor based heavily on past performance. Ask for names of clients and follow-up with phone calls and drive-bys if possible. A good contractor will be happy to provide as many referrals as you want.
- Choose a contractor based on recommendations of local business owners he deals with such as bankers, material suppliers or local officials.
- Choose a contractor who appears knowledgeable and has a helpful attitude and will have your best interest at heart.
- Use common sense judgment.
- Finally, don't be rushed into making a decision, no matter how competitive the market may seem. And never pay a deposit to a contractor at the first meeting.