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.
Whether your home needs a complete renovation, or a room needs to be repaired, there are some things to know before you hire.
Home security comprises a number of different technologies, tools and techniques. Choose one that fits your needs and your budget.
If your sprinklers are geysering or are leaking, there are a few steps to take to mitigate these problems.
The worse! Never had such a bad experience. Tony seemed nice enough but turned out to be unethical. Shifty guy! Do not trust him. His non-english speaking or understanding workers damaged my property and my neighbor's. Charged my credit card before work was even completed. Doesn't return phone calls or fix the damage and mess they leave behind. Cracked my concrete, bent my fence posts left huge ruts in my lawn with their huge commercial trucks. AVOID!
We hired Dipaolo and Sons, Inc. and its owner, Frank Primerano, to build a 16’ X 12’ addition to our home in Williamsville, NY. Mr. Primerano walked off the job after receiving 90% payment on the contract. Still to be completed was removal of topsoil and construction debris in the back yard and a solution to the significant water pooling which was creating a 6” deep by 8’ wide pool against the foundation. Mr. Primerano’s only answer to the water problem was to provide an eight-foot 2 X 10 plank over the water to the rear door, 2 feet above the water. It cost us twice what we withheld to repair his unfinished work. Additionally, upon inspection by the Town of Amherst building inspectors, several more problems were found due to Mr. Primerano’s unacceptable construction. Among their findings were: The necessity to provide stairs to the rear door, R-8 air supply ducts required were only R-6, there was no return air duct in the addition and a concrete PSI report on footers was never submitted. Most significantly, insulation in the crawl space floor of the addition was installed upside-down. This necessitated the removal and replacement of more than 200 sq. ft. of insulation. We incurred an additional 45% in costs to complete and/or correct his mistakes and get a Certificate of Occupancy. We are dissatisfied with the debris he left behind, backfill he left untouched, the lack of a proper drainage system, his apparent inability to render basic construction skills, his lack of communication with the Town of Amherst Building inspectors and his failure to comply with the Town of Amherst Building Code. We would never use Mr. Primerano or his company, Dipaolo & Sons again, nor would we recommend him to anyone.
Great company - and it was really nice dealing with Tony himself! He came personally to give us a quote, got back to us quickly, and came the next day to remove our trees because he was concerned about them potentially falling on the house. Estimate was a good price!
My desktop was having problems. Wouldn't stay on for more than a couple of minutes. I told to a guy and after inspecting it he told me my fan went bad. I drop it off that day and picked it up the next.
Needed 2 trees removed. One additional tree trimmed. Was told job would take 2-3 days. It took 3 weeks. Had to take down two fence panels and one post to give them access to the yard... which we had done before their arrival. Corner of concrete patio is cracked. Yard is destroyed... divots and craters and tire ruts galore. Could have overlooked the yard and even the concrete if they weren't so terrible to work with. Was calling for 2.5 weeks (to find out when they were coming back to finish) before Tony FINALLY returned my call. Left messages with the office over and over. Would not recommend working with this company.
I noticed Tony's Tree Service was doing work for my neighbors and I asked him for an estimate. Tony was professional and courteous and gave me a great price on about ten trees that he took down. The service was exceptional, the equipment was well maintained, the crew was polite and attentive to detail and Tony himself supervised the job. I have seen his trucks all around my neighborhood and I know that he has a stellar reputation for doing the best at his profession. This a family owned business that takes pride in its work. I would highly recommend Tony's Tree and Landscaping to anyone in need of this type of service.
Before we came to Agape my autistic son, who had destructive and violent tendencies, spent 6 years on various waiting lists for residential placement. After we came to Agape, he was placed in less than one year. We have an excellent service coordinator at Agape who truly understood our situation and did not stop looking until she found placement for our son. Now he is doing very well. Agape also found our family an excellent special education lawyer when we needed one. I would recommend Agape to any parent with a special needs child.
Being a previous customer of another tree service company, I can 100% say I highly recommend Tony’s Tree Service for all your tree trimming and tree removal needs. Tony’s Tree Service came in and offered me a deal I couldn’t refuse; over a thousand less dollars than the previous company I dealt with (all while doing more work)! The best part of the arrangement, though, is the time and care the personnel of Tony’s Tree Service took to ensure the work was done in a clean and professional manner. Even with a rain soaked ground, and after all my trees were removed, one could not tell there was ever anybody there. To further drive the point home, I had a four foot gate through which Tony’s Tree Service removed over ten trees and over 30 bushes; no heavy machinery of any kind was used! Because of the care and concern that goes into each project they undertake, stump removal was put off until the ground became harder and firmer so as to not destroy my lawn with the machine used for over 40 stump removals. If I ever need any tree services in the future, Tony’s Tree Service will be the company I will not hesitate to call!! Thanks to Tony and his staff for a job well done!
I contacted Tony's Tree and Landscaping because I saw them at my neighbors house, and I wanted to get my trees evaluated. Tony was fantastic! He came right over and found dead ash trees in my yard that could have caused me a lot of problems this winter. Not only did he give me a great price, but the crew was here the next day. What a great service, company and crew! All the crew members worked great together and cleaned up my yard beautifully. They respected my property and took time to put big rubber mats down on my lawn so it wouldn't get any unnecessary damage. I couldn't be anymore pleased with the job they've done! I highly recommend this family owned and operated business to everyone.
Tony took down my trees the day after I called them. Six huge ash trees expertly cut and removed. Everything was done professionally. He even rushed to get our landscaping completed in time to surprise my wife who was in rehab recovering from hip surgery.
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.