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.
From Business: Founded in 1961, Jerry's Home Improvement Center is a locally owned business that offers a range of materials and tools for home renovation projects. It provides …
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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.
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I have spent over $50,000 at Jerry's between my commercial and personal accounts over the last few years. The last two times I have visited the store I have received horrible advice and guidance from their staff. During my last visit, I purchased a pressure washer and was advised by an associate to purchase add-ons that I would need to operate the machine. Upon arriving home the items I purchased separately were included with the machine already. Today I called about a specific tool to see if they had it in stock. They did but the salesman, James L. in tools, highly recommended I purchase an alternate brand instead. He described the features included with his preferred brand but upon assembling the unit I found that many of the things he said were untrue. I still don't know if he didn't understand the product he was selling or if he just lied to me. The clincher was the lackluster customer service during the return process. I will never return to Jerry's but will instead use Home Depot and Lowe's. This is a shame because I would really prefer to buy locally.
My husband and I built our home 11 yrs. ago and with a lot of help from Jerry's. Many quaity parts and ideas came from them and we would do it all over again. Somethings we wish now we would have purchased at Jerry's instead of speciality shops. They never let us down. Still go there for everthing. We had our semi-custom cabinets bought there and they are now going to have one I broke matched for me through schrock, the maker of these cabinets. Can,t say enough about Jerry's.
12/22/2016 update. Jason refuses to respond to my inquiry regarding a warranty. The window his company installed leaks. I guess it is up to me to get it fixed. The pint on the kitchen ceiling also is pealing. I wouldn't use his painter just from what I saw after he painted, but now I really wouldn't. I think he forgot to clean before he painted as well as after. There are a lot of other problems with his work, but the window concerns me for other damage it could be doing to the house. The contractorr Jason Kaminski comes out to do the bid and get the deposit. He then hires Day laborers to work with a crew leader, never returns a call and it seems will only come out to see the half *ssed work when you with hold the last half of the payment. He then had some quick fixes done but still a lot looks cheap and for this we payed 50.00 an hour and materials. If you use his painter be prepared to clean paint off of cupbords, trim and all the kitchen and bathroom fixtures when he leaves. Nothing done was worth 50.00 an hour.
Been working w/ them for 3+ years. . . Quality people, professional, excellent viewing of prospect Employees
We would never use them again or recommend them to anyone. He hires cheap untrained labor that can't do quality work and when you try to communicate the information to Jason, he will not respond. And he doesn't communicate with his project coordinator when he covers for him leaving him flying in the wind, also with no training and experience, We had to check on our house every evening to pull light fixtures, new, needing installed out of the garbage along with many other things. His team even thru away his own pay checks totalling 20,000 under a pile of garbage in our home for months. After I realized how out of control things were and couldn't get appropriate follow thru from Jason or the coordinator, I started posting notes for his crew to repair low quailty things. His team would rip them down wad them up and throw them them on the floor daily. Just one of many many examples: The trim in the kitchen was put in with no transition leaving a gap. I asked a transition be cut into the trim for it to actually sit on the floor. Never happened. And pulled the notes out of the garbage and reposted them nightly. When Jason came thru, we discussed it. His fix? fill the gap with caulking. And this was after a specific type of trim was requested in writing, with pictures that no one ever remembered. When a project is overdue and you have no place to live, you take what you can get just to get rid of them because you know they don't care. One of the many notes was a request to install a handrail on left side of the staircase it was posted right in the place they had to work to install the hand rail. They installed it on the right side and the note was on the floor wrinkled up. I took pictures of all of it, including the wrinkled up before and after notes. A pocket door installation was 2 inches off and wouldn't close appropriately, they had to be convinced it was faulty. And then they offered credit vs fixing it. We asked it be fixed and while the door shuts, the botched 3rd world paint job that was part of their "fix" is horendous. Another example: They had a painter installing electrical outlet covers and connected wires. I came home turned on a switch and the sparks flew and the power went off to that whole side of the kitchen. A week later they finally called the electrician in to fix it. These guys are calous and uncaring that they couldn't even go out of their way for a simple water line repair that needed fixed. They told us the plumber didn't have time to fix it. When my mother in law died and we had family coming in from washington with little means and needed a place to stay, I asked Jason if he could expedite the water line so they could sleep on the floor and use the bathroom and wash their hands. Jason told us no. Later the plumber told us that he was ready and available to fix the water line but Jason and his team told him not to. Jason's team used it as a means to keep us out of the house so they could have access to work at their own schedule. The only people I know that cold blooded take drugs. One night I came to check on the house and the property, not empty but also used for storage of our personal things in back rooms, was unsecure and the doors not on nothing boarded up and no one around. Another example: The flooring they installed had gravel under it and now needs replaced. The sheetrocked walls were not straight and you could see the waves in it. The painting was so poor quality that we have a mess to have fixed there. Asking them to fix it made the quality even worse. I could upload pictures that would blow your mind. But that isn't an option here. Anything his team puts in for finishing that doesn't fit, they caulk it and only some of it. And only some of that gets covered with paint. I could literally write a book. My recommendation, save yourself some anxiety meds and hire someone else. We learned the hard way.
Jason was referred to us for a 203K home purchase. He believes he has soon to be homeowners by the short hairs saying, "The appraiser is going to want this done, and that done,". Knowing homeowners aren't allowed to do work themselves with this kind of loan, he then puts overpriced bids in front of them. It took nearly 3 weeks to finally get a bid. When we saw it, we challenged the price of a couple of items, ie $50 to fix a 1" diameter hole in the back of a closet? That was just the beginning. At any rate, he dropped us after wasting 3 weeks of our time causing us to miss our closing. Cannot be trusted and is overpriced.
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.