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.
Serving the Morgantown Area.
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2026 Pleasant Valley RdFairmont, WV 26554
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Whether your home needs a complete renovation, or a room needs to be repaired, there are some things to know before you hire.
There is a reason John has amazing reviews. As a young college student far away from home, I really had no idea what to do when I woke up to a busted pipe and flooding in my basement this morning. I'm naive when it comes to home repair and maintenance, and being far from home, had no idea where to go for a plumber except Google. I'm so glad I did. I saw John's company listing and read his reviews. I can now do the same. He managed to fit me into his schedule the SAME DAY. When he arrived, he found the problem, fixed it, and charged next to nothing for his service. Unlike other local plumbers who would have taken advantage of my naivety and charged $300 just for showing up, John charged a total of $120 for the ENTIRE service. I literally could not believe it. I can't say enough about this guy! Now I know where to go for the other few things around this house that need repairing. Seriously, if he's not already, he should be your GO TO GUY.
John is our "Go To" guy. We live about 90 miles away and haven't been to the house in a while. We called him to fix some water damage to a rental property. He not only fixed that, but a few other things we didn't even know was broken! He also filled nail holes in the walls, replaced heating pipes, insulated pipes that hadn't been previously, fixed a drain and created a nice, stable deck out of one that was unsafe. His wife was also great. She touched up floor paint that was accidentally stepped in and made sure everything was clean and tidy before they left. All this and he stuck to his estimate!! They are trustworthy, honest, fast and their high level of craftmanship is second to none! I would (and will) recommend Maintenance Free Contracting and Plumbing to anyone who needs a contractor.
I have some rentals in Morgantown and Fairmont I needed some work done on roof and deck in the front Robert and his crew came as agreed and was fast and I was able to rent this unit the next day I would recommend this company to anyone we all know how hard it is to get people just to show up to give you a price we were glad to see someone out there is left that shows up I had no problems with Robert he did what he said he would do
this company was great called from out of state to have my mother's home worked on. roof and a water leak in basement. john came out looked at the things needing done. contacted me the next day with a fair price. and sent a crew the following day and they were nice and clean and repaired a few other things for my mother at no extra cost. and I was able to send the payment to them. I would recommend this company to anyone.
I highly recommend John and Maintenance Free. They quickly and efficiently fixed the problem we had. Very professional. We had a large leak in one of the drainage pipes in our wall. John and his crew were able to fix the problem and repair the wall, saving us the time and energy of dealing with two different contractors. As an added bonus, they fixed a few minor problems we had with no additional cost.
I called to have siding installed and repaired, as well as have problematic roof joists replaced. Bob and his professional crew gave me a quote on the same day, then began work the next morning. This team is hard-working, polite and knowledgeable. They saved me money, using their own materials and maximizing what I had available. I highly recommend this company!-Whinston
Wonderful, FAST, friendly service! Clean, neat, professional all the way! Definitely would recommend this company to others. I called one afternoon and I had a new toilet installed the very next day. John was extremely careful to ensure all the water was removed from the old toilet, all debris was cleaned and removed. Very happy customer!
Met this contractor at the Home Show last year. Nice guy, very knowledgeable. Was able to get on their schedule. The workmanship was top notch as well as the workers. Very polite men and excellent clean up. We are happy that we protected our investment with a new roof. Thanks Laurel Home Improvements for a job well done.
I know a bit about plumbing so when I couldn't fix it I knew I had to call someone. Went through two different plumbers before maintenance free stepped in and made the other guys look like chumps. Don't waste time shopping around , these are the only guys you'll need.
OMG, I had 3 plumbers trying to fix the plumbing problem with my washer and none of them could do it. Then John walked in and immediately saw the problem --- in no time at all, it was done ! ! John is efficient, friendly and GETS THE JOB DONE ! ! !
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.