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Hiring a General Contractor--The Contract is the Key

By Roger Diez
If you are looking at a major home remodel project requiring heavy construction and/or building permits, hiring a general contractor for the job is usually a good idea. But remember, like anything else in life, there are good ones and bad ones. Do your homework to make sure yours is a good one.

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The Contractor Selection Process

The best approach to finding a general contractor is through referrals. If you have friends or family members who have used general contractors, get their advice. Check with your local building supply companies, trade organizations, and the Better Business Bureau to put together your list. Contact several contractors and discuss your project with them, then get estimates or bids from the three you feel most confident in. Choose the best contractor for further scrutiny (but keep the others on the burner, just in case). Get copies of the contractor's licenses and insurance certificates. Get references from clients who have had similar projects done by the contractor, and check them out. Most happy clients will be delighted to show off their projects.

Your General Contractor Contract

If everything checks out, the next step is to execute a contract for the project. Make sure the contract includes:
  • Project specifications, including materials and detailed drawings
  • Start and completion dates
  • Guarantees and warranties
  • Change order procedure
  • Responsibility for obtaining permits
  • Payment terms (no more than 1/3 up-front, payment schedule tied to deliverables)
  • Release of lien clause (in case of sub-contractor non-payment)

Have your attorney review the contract and make any changes he or she feels necessary.

The contract with your general contractor is your best assurance that the job will be done right and on time. Still, keep a close eye on the project until completion.

About the Author

Roger Diez has a broad range of business and management experience ranging from computer engineering to sales/marketing and public relations. He has worked in economic development, print and electronic advertising, human resources, and manufacturing disciplines. Roger has Bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Phoenix with undergraduate coursework in journalism and technology.

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