What to Know About: General Contractors »
Whether your home needs a complete renovation, or a room needs to be repaired, there are some things to know before you hire.
Rensselaer, NY 12144
Tri-County Masonry expertly converted the existing dirt crawl space in our home to a concrete floor complete with graded surface, perimeter drainage…
70 Tivoli StAlbany, NY 12207
From Business: We are a third generation company owned and operated by Bryant Luizzi. The Luizzi name has been going strong around the Capitol Region for over 55 years. We offer…
635 Mariaville RdSchenectady, NY 12306
From Business: Frank Santoro & Sons Demolition & Excavation is family owned and operated company with over 70 years of high standard experience. We specialize in demolitions, ex…
Serving the Albany Area.
From Business: Trash Container Rental, Dumpster Rental, Waste Management, Advanced Disposal Services, Port-O-Let, Porta Potty, Construction Dumpster, Roll Off Containers, and Ro…
470 N Greenbush RdRensselaer, NY 12144
From Business: Established in 1985, Constanza Contracting began as a one-man contractor remodeling kitchens and baths and building small additions. It quickly grew to building c…
Whether your home needs a complete renovation, or a room needs to be repaired, there are some things to know before you hire.
Excellent people with great price
The installation was terrible. The supplies literally blew away twice and my house was left for nearly two weeks stripped of siding and exposed for two SEVERE winter storms so severe that it blew the few rows of siding on the front of my house off my house! I have a Culligan water filtration system with an exterior drain that was pushed flat into the east wall (see pic) and sided OVER preventing the system from flushing and could have led to a fire. This was caught by the great folks of Culligan while delivering salt, Thanks God. The siding hangs unevenly and the folks at Residential Improvement are blaming the crappy appearance/result on the actual walls of the house being uneven and told my daughter when they came in June that they are done and are not coming back to repair it. I am in the process of getting a second opinion from a reputable contractor to fix this mess and was called a bully and liar for advocating for myself - a single mom. This is the actual quote from the owner in my last email correspondence after I complained about how awful the siding looks, especially from a distance: " Once again Suzan, please feel free to call me, texting (email) is not transparent solution. MY HOURS OF OPERATION 8:30AM-3:30PM. You obvisously have not interpreted any of our actions accurately. Please call during business hours to be properly directed in our finished work. Your statements are falsely characterized. I also have pics. Sincerely Michael p.s. I will never be bullied by fictitious statements and/or threats. 36 years I’ve heard and seen it all". UNBELIEVABLE! I HAVE NEVER, EVER BEEN TREATED LIKE THIS BY A CONTRACTOR!Do NOT do business with these people! ALSO, I believe that this is a bait and switch. The insulation their sales person showed my daughter and I was clearly NOT the same insulation installed at my home - hence, one more reason why I am contacting the Mass Attorney General's Office requesting their involvement. Wish I had a pic of THAT!
By far the worst company that anyone can hire Geico insurance for me because I hired them now I know why insurance companies know best they should not be in business they are horrible
I received excellent service from J & E. I had some plumbing problems and they fixed it really quickly. Also, they gave me a great quote on some sheet rock that i needed done. Everything looks great! I recommend them highly. They are punctual and honest.
Had siding installed 6 years ago and now the white coating is peeling off of the facia in multiple spots around the house and of course the response was that's not covered under warranty. How did I know that was going to be the answer. Buyer Beware !!! stay away
We had Frank come here, actually twice. Last year we were quoted for siding, then we received a phone call this year that siding had been drastically reduced, we could save thousands! With that phone call we decided to investigate siding again and scheduled four folks a week ago to come and quote the job. Frank from Residential Specialists was the first, knowledgeable and his pricing was about a thousand dollars less than the quote from a year ago. It did not include the porch, lower rear section of the house or detail on the sun room. Other quotes we received later in the week did include these pieces of the home. We went with another company who quoted less and is enthusiastic to complete the job.Frank called me today, when I told him of the outcome he said we "deserved each other". I was disgusted at his tone and simply hung up the phone. There is no call for such nasty customer service.
one I just had siding with insulation done on my 100 year home ,the owner ,foremen workers are the greatest people I met ,I been in construction my life NO,ONE COMPANY AND WORKERS THANK YOU MEN
I just had my windows installed in November by Residential Specialists they are wonderful love how they make my house look and the heat I am saving is great. The guys that worked on my house took great care in what they were doing and kept a watch out for my dogs.
This company is horrible. They are an embarrassment, totally unprofessional, and promise one thing while doing another. When you try to ask questions or get them to address problems, they are rude and abusive. Right down to the receptionist, who is arguably the least informed person I have ever spoken with. Just leaving a message through her is difficult - she seems completely unaware of the type of business that they are in. A classic bait-and-switch. This is the type of contracting company that I would stay far, far away from.
There has perhaps never been a better tool for do-it-yourself home handymen than the internet. With detailed instructions and videos explaining how to perform a number of common maintenance and renovation tasks around a house, an untrained homeowner might be surprised at how much he or she can accomplish with a quick search online. But even with all of this information, there are still many jobs that lie far outside the scope of most DIY enthusiasts. General contractors are there to fill in this gap.
A general contractor specializes in seeing a home remodel or repair project through from start to finish. To do this, the contractor works with the client - whether they are a homeowner or business - to nail down the scope of the work. Then he or she will turn to one or more subcontractors for specific tasks, like equipment operation, design, electrical work or whatever else is needed.
In essence, general contractors could be thought of as middlemen between a homeowner or business owner and any number of specialists. To get their money's worth, many assume they should just "cut out the middleman" and hire specialists directly, but this often proves more difficult in practice. General contractors won't be completing an entire project by themselves, but should have a long list of dependable experts who can work together and accomplish any task. They might also serve as the manager on the site of a construction project, overseeing workers and providing guidance and assistance when needed. For larger projects, though, the contractor might only handle administrative matters and employ a foreman or other professional for on-site supervision.
There are many general contractors who also specialize in certain tasks themselves. There is usually at least one general contractor on hand to organize the construction of an entire home, for example. But general contractors could also help a homeowner add an additional bedroom, build an in-ground pool or complete a major landscaping project. They could also work with a business to add or improve office space, whether that means making more room or converting a commercial building from a nail salon to a restaurant. Basically, if it's a job that involves building or repairing, a general contractor probably knows how to get it done.
No matter what the exact job may be, a contractor will probably need to accomplish several other essential tasks in pursuit of the ultimate goal, which may include:
Every general contractor performing any kind of work on a project must be licensed to do so in their state. The guidelines for the specifics on licensing vary from state to state. Some states might only require registration of contractors, which is different from licensing. Registration typically means that there must be a written record of what work is being performed and by whom, but it does not guarantee professional knowledge. Licensing, on the other hand, involves an examination process to assess professional competence.
Whether your state requires licensing or registration of contractors, there should be a record of most professionals willing to complete certain projects in your area. Check your state or county website for more information. In states that require licensing, every licensed contractor's contact information is available online or from another public source.
Not every project needs to be completed by a licensed or registered contractor. If it's just a minor job that won't take more than a day or two, and will cost less than a few hundred dollars, it's likely not necessary to find a licensed or registered contractor. However, anything bigger or more expensive, or a project involving plumbing or electrical work, needs to be completed by a licensed or registered professional.
General contractors also must be covered by an insurance policy. This should include liability coverage for any property damage that could be inflicted in the course of a job. It should also include a worker's compensation policy in case anyone is injured on the job. Before hiring a contractor for anything, ask for written proof of this insurance to see exactly what is covered.
A number of trade associations for contractors in the U.S. exist. Some of the biggest include:
Most trade associations for general contractors will provide references for anyone looking to hire a contractor for a specific project. They may also provide a number of benefits for their members, including assistance with licensing, training, insurance and business development.
No matter what you need accomplished, you want to choose a contractor who can get the job done right at a reasonable price. Obviously, this is easier said than done, but there are a few steps you can take to ensure you find a trustworthy general contractor.
The first, and perhaps most reliable, way to find a general contractor is to ask friends and family members for a recommendation. If you know anyone who has had major work done on their home, particularly if it's a similar job, ask them who they hired and if they were pleased with the result. You could also ask neighbors about who they've hired if you notice work being done on their house. Many remodeling contractors post signs in front of homes to advertise their services. As a general rule, it's rarely a good idea to hire a contractor who solicits work by going door to door.
If you are considering hiring a contractor without a personal recommendation, ask the contractor for references from past clients, and do as much background research on them as possible. Look for any complaints (or compliments) online to get a better idea of their track record. There are a number of websites specializing in connecting contractors with people or businesses who need work done. These sites may also allow past clients to submit their own reviews of the contractor.
Before hiring a contractor, make sure you are both in agreement on the project's budget. It's normal for most contractors to charge clients a premium not only for the labor expenses and zoning expertise, but for acquiring the materials as well. Be as clear and concise as possible regarding what you'll be purchasing yourself and what you will be paying the contractor to complete. Homeowners may be able to find a better deal on raw materials when they purchase these directly, but they first need to be sure they aren't buying the wrong things.
Don't forget to discuss how the project will be finalized and what will be done about cleanup. Plans for how the work site will be cleaned at the end of each day as well as at the conclusion of work need to be put in writing. An experienced general contractor should make every effort to keep the workspace clean and prevent dirtying or damaging any other area. Even so, talk with the contractor about the daily schedule, the logistics of transporting workers and equipment, and how cleanup will be handled.
As previously mentioned, you need to make sure to follow any state and local regulations regarding construction work, which includes hiring a licensed or registered general contractor. Ask the contractor for proof of their certification before signing anything, as well as their proof of insurance. You should also check your homeowners insurance policy to see if they offer coverage for contracted work. You may want to call your insurance provider and ask for more details on what your plan will and won't cover.
Perhaps the best way to feel safe about a contractor and the work being done is to hire a contractor you trust. This is why relying on personal references from friends and family is so important, and will often provide a great deal of peace of mind. If you aren't able to obtain a reference, work to conduct extensive research on the contractor as well as the work you are hiring them to perform. This should bring everyone's expectations into alignment and result in a safe work environment.
Before any money changes hands, there should be a contract to sign. Make sure the specifics of the work to be done and all costs are listed in the contract, right down to the most precise details. If you forget to have something included in the contract after signing it, there's rarely a chance of recourse.
Once the specifics of the job are nailed down, be sure to discuss the payment schedule with the contractor. This is important because paying too much up front offers the homeowner minimal leverage if the quality of work does not meet expectations or contractual specifications. Try to establish a reasonable pay schedule with the contractor, such as paying 10 percent of the total cost for each 10 percent of the work that is completed. It's a good idea to include this payment plan in the contract as well.
Finally, look into getting a lien release signed before work begins. If there is ever a dispute regarding payment over the course of the project, a contractor or subcontractor could place a payment claim, or lien, on your property. This can trigger a long legal process that may be frustrating. To avoid this, ask the contractor to sign a lien release, which is a legal agreement that states that any payment accepted is final. This can come in handy if a contractor has his or her own payment issues with their subcontractors. Signing a lien release form certifies that any payment made by a client to the contractor is enough to pay for any goods or services rendered. A lien dispute could also be prevented by performing due diligence prior to picking a contractor, as any contractor with good credit and a long track record of satisfied clients should have no trouble paying for materials and labor once all contract conditions have been met.
Once work is underway, it's never a bad idea to check up on the progress of the job, either by staying in touch with the contractor over the phone or visiting the site in person. If you work with a trustworthy professional, it's probably best to keep your distance and allow everyone to stay busy. If you want to keep an eye on things, make sure workers wear the right safety gear and that everything looks to be moving along according to schedule. Finally, once work is finished and you are satisfied, be sure to thank your contractor and tell friends or family members about your experience.