We own a historic building in the French Quarter of New Orleans. We have been through a number of general contractors who either inflate bills or inflate jobs to unimaginable expense and unnecessary complexity. But then we found a gem of a general contractor, John Stevens, and since, we can rest easy. We had a pipe that burst in a January freeze on the third floor. The internal flood ruined the ceiling, walls and floors of rooms in all three levels. Because of inaccessibility, it was difficult to find a reputable and fair contractor. Our plumber referred John to us. We were in despair. John came onto the scene, gave us a fair bid, quickly began the huge project, and returned the old house to better than its pre-flood state, its former grandeur. He worked to coordinate all our subs. We use his services now as our sole contractor. We whole-heartedly recommend John and his contractor service. We can rest easy knowing he is keeping our property in a proper state since the massive restoration.
New Orleans, LA 70130
From Business: "Original New Orleans Painting" 5 Generations of Experience. Residential/Commercial/Industrial/Exterior/Interior. General Carpenty & Renovations, Hard Wood Floors…
5301 Canal BlvdNew Orleans, LA 70124
From Business: We specialize in Historical Renovations, major high end residential renovations, custom home building, additions and light commercial projects. We also offer Desi…
After my post-Katrina nightmares, all contractors are suspect to me, so any company I deal with have to check out A+ with the BBB. I chose three companies to get estimates all with A+ rating. Two estimates were super inflated for a 5’X7’ bathroom. I was very pleased that John’s Contractor Service worked within my price range and it was a big plus that his price included the plumber and electrician fees. His team was very professional, courteous, and did what they came to do in the time frame he gave me. I’ve gotten so many complements on my tiny bathroom; it’s a true Masterpiece, I Love it. I only wish I’d taken before pics to post with my review, it was embarrassing and had to be gutted and rebuilt from the ceiling down. I definitely recommend John’s Contractor Service.
The owners of city wide appear to be loving people , however the work started on my home in May of 2013 is not complete it is now April of 2014. they will not return my calls. the insulation under the house is falling. Some items were taken from my house by the workers has not been returned to me even though the owner assured me she had the items in her possession. they ask for keys to my property and has not returned them. the workers destroyed several things around my home including a vegetable garden. April 29,2004 work was restarted on my property and citywide is doing a wonderful job. Hooray. the work only lasted a few weeks and stopped again without completion .it seems I will need an attorney to get the job completed.
After many dealings with jack leg contractors, I must admit that all contractors were suspect, in my opinion. John's Contractor Services was recommended to me by a trusted associate. From day one of meeting with John's Contractor Services, my suspicions were put to rest. Professional and timely service was all I wanted in a contractor. John's Contractor Service delivered. I recommend John's Contractor Service to everyone looking for professional and timely construction service. John's Contractor Service really does do it right, the first time. MariaP New Orleans, LA
John and his team were absolutely wonderful to work with! We had a crack in a pipe that caused a lot of water damage to our floor and to some of our ceiling. John was accommodating to my hectic work schedule, quick to start the job, communicative throughout the entire process and the finished work is incredible. He replaced the floors and patched up the ceiling and I couldn't be more please with how it went. Highly recommended, thank you so much to John and his crew!
John took over my complete renovation project when another contractor fell through, and I couldn't have been happier to find my project now in competent hands. John and his crew communicated extremely well regarding the cost and time that would go into each part of the renovation. In the end, I was completely satisfied with their work and now over a year later, i can gladly report that my home is still as solid as the day they finished working.
John redid both of our bathrooms and did a wonderful job. They turned out better than we had hoped they would. John is a great listener and will work with you to give you what you want. The final price was what he quoted us at the beginning. He and his crew got the job done in a very short period of time with minimal inconvenience. We will use John again whenever we need work done in the future. He is someone that you can trust.
Don't bother with Angie's List; John is reliable, on time and a real find in contractors. We hired John because of his reasonable prices but soon found out that not only was his estimate the best but he was a true professional who could get the job completed on time. I highly recommend John's Contractor Service. My new master bath is a masterpiece! Chris from Metairie
I have an older home that needed some structural updating.John and his crew paid attention to the small details. And they stayed on my job until it was completed. No small detail was overlooked. I'm very satisfied and would recommend.
Had termite damage which was a small job. John was happy to take the task and did everything he said he would do. Arrived on time and completed the job ahead of time. Thank for a great job.
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:
- Understanding and applying for building permits to meet local regulations
- Organizing a budget and adhering to it throughout the project
- Gathering all the necessary tools and equipment, from hammers and shovels to large excavators and generators
- Securing the construction site and equipment after work hours
- Working with personnel on-site to address any issues
- Keeping records of materials, labor and all other expenses
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:
- Associated General Contractors of America: Represents more than 6,500 general contracting firms and more than 9,000 specialty contractors nationwide.
- Associated Builders and Contractors: Represents non-union contracting firms.
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.
Hiring a General Contractor
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.
Finding general contractors
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.