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.
We have built over 11 brand new homes in our lives, two of them being custom homes. The experience we had with Richardson Brothers was by far the worst. They let their Construction Superintendent go towards the beginning of our project and after that there pretty much was no supervision. We ourselves had to find the flaws and oversights. Bowed windows, wrong fireplaces, wrong countertops, wrong grout in tile etc. etc. The pool done by Cutting Edge is another nightmare, charged for a waterfall twice the size we received, grout lines over an inch wide, in pool table tile that has edges that could cut you easily and that is just to name a few. We now have a fence/sinking yard issue that was brought to their attention before the one year warranty expired. We are almost six months out from that with no resolution. A builder/general contractor is only as good as the subs they hire and they aren't supervising the subs.
"We were in the process of moving to Southern Utah when we came across a home built by Dennis Miller Construction. We have built three-homes in Northern Utah and the craftsmanship of this Dennis Miller home was on par with our high expectations therefore, we contracted with Dennis Miller Construction to build our new home in Southern Utah. We sure are happy we made that decision. We were walked through the custom design process and the end result was plans that met our needs perfectly. During the construction as each phase was completed we would go through an inspection to make sure everything was done correctly. We had several change requests during this time and each change that resulting in an additional cost was thoroughly explained before work was started. We were thrilled that our home was completed three-week ahead of schedule. In conclusion the home is beautiful, the craftsmanship is fantastic and the process was the best we've experienced. Scott and Josje Sudbury
S&S Homes and Co-Owner James Sullivan are the most UNTRUSTWORTHY builders in Southern Utah. Once your 1 year warranty is up its like your fell off planet earth as far as James is concerned. S&S currently has 4 Class Action Lawsuits against them for the shoddy building practice they use as their typical business model and their lousy, rude (lack of) customer service. Multiple communities are enraged. You don't have to take my word for it because there are literally HUNDREDS of dissatisfied S&S Homeowners who wish they had never known that S&S builders ever existed. It's ALL very well documented; ALL built on very sad TRUTH with lawsuits, certified mailings and numerous court depositions.There are SO MANY other builders in Southern Utah that both build better end products AND are actually pleased they provided you with the home of your dreams. I would NOT buy another S&S Home from James Sullivan if it was the last house on the planet for sale.... I'd rather live in a cardboard box than to ever deal with the likes of James Sullivan and S&S Homes. An EXACT QUOTE from Jimmy himself as to when he completely fractured the entire exterior stucco to my house and I DARE have something to say about it was: "So Sue Me". If that isn't just great developer relations after taking hundreds of thousands of dollars from me. James can choke on his lawsuits for all I care.Amazing... We ran into another FURIOUS homeowner of S&S Homes in the "Escalara" development at Red Cliffs near the North East part of the city. His 3600 sq.ft. home has a completely destroyed northern exterior wall, has dealt with having to replace interior electrical fixtures at his own expense and dealt with broken water feeder pipes on his front lawn that were incorrectly laid by being buried in the trench, filled in with big GRAVEL (not dirt or sand) and the grass on top of that. When the owner walked on his lawn he punctured the water line and caused a flood that was another expensive repair. James Sullivan blamed the owner and then was subsequently thrown off the property.These people are all compulsive LIARS and manipulators and will DO ANYTHING to mislead you. It’s all about falsely controlling marketing "facts" and puffing themselves up to look like the big dog in town. If you research the market then you will more than likely RUN THE OTHER WAY. I wish I did. If you talk to any of these so called "competent' employees MAKE SURE you ask them about the FOUR OUTSTANDING CLASS ACTION LAWSUITS levied against this "trustworthy" company This is ALL documented truth and should be on file at The City as public record, so check for yourself.This LOUSY review of S&S Homes and Owner James Sullivan is COMPLETELY TRUE and very well documented with multiple persons more than willing to personally protest against S&S Homes and James Sullivan. So this review is NOT born of abuse, but is submitted to WARN the general public of the company abuse and possible monetary loss of investment if you choose to be taken by this BAD FAITH company and its owner, James Sullivan
VanDam construction is a highly recommended place to go if you're looking for a true custom home experience.
My opinion.....DON'T DO IT,! This is the fifth time we have built a new home and it is the most expensive and the worse experience ever. This has cured me of ever wanting to build again. Four months since we moved in and still dealing with issues. If we worked we would probably be fired for having to miss so much work. A film all over the tile floor that had to be hand scrubbed, a shower that had to be regrouted and is still not right, a cracked courtyard wall, knocks in the wall no one knows what it is, paint all over every thing, peeling paint, and thank goodness we live here to have been able to check on the build daily. By the time we are done, I feel as though I paid for a new house but got a recycled one. Even if they fix every thing, and they have been trying, who the heck wants to go through this. We built our dream home and now hate it. I hope they stand behind their work and will fix that bathroom to be perfect. You can email us to inquire.
We had Desert Sky build our home this past year. We are more then happy with every aspect of their company. They were very upfront with the costs. When it was time to pay they would show us every bill that our money was going to be used towards. If that is not honest I am not sure what is. As for the comment below you had said "I wouldn't trust them with my home", you must of not built with them since that phrase sounds like a current home, I have referred many of our friends to them and hope that they make the choice to build. They would even take my calls afterhours. I don't know any company that is willing to do that. All I can say is that my husband and I are so happy we went with them after meeting with three other builders.
We had Desert Sky build our home and we were extremely pleased. They did everythingthey said they would do and more. Everyone was great to work with.
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.