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.
7000 NE Airport WayPortland, OR 97218
From Business: The Real Mother Goose Gallery features over 900 American artist's creations in jewelry, woodworking, furniture, glass, ceramics, and clothing. Handcrafted jewelry…
22910 NE 92nd AveBattle Ground, WA 98604
From Business: Lehner Construction: Here at Lehner Construction, we look at job sites in person and discuss the options that would best fulfill the customer's wants and needs. O…
We have been here for one year and we can tell you that they do not adhere to the rules in their contract. People constantly! Smoke weed and cigarette in and under the carport and on the patios above you. You cannot walk anywhere without smokers being where they are not allowed. Management does absolutely nothing about it and they see these offenders everyday. Pit bulls are not allowed and they have 3 here one is very aggressive you have to be on watch all the time. They also let people live in apartments that are not on the lease and are trouble makers and they also do not do anything about that even when mentioned. This place is not up to par and that is my review of it
Joe here. His teem is excellent, and he is an artist. they installed a patio for me, 22' x 25' with two 5 1/2 "steps, there work is on time and excellent. They are the best period !
Great business with top quality workers. This was the second project on my home and Im very very happy. Thanks Guys
Giving one star put of five is a long stretch. Their work is shoddy at best. They brought out a stack of lumber then days later showed up and swapped it out with obviously left over scraps from another job. Horrible mistakes were made and little of it was resolved. They drug the small project out for weeks and demanded instant payment tacking on more to the bill. They say they don't except payment unroll you are satisfied but they demand immediate payment or the charge 18% interest. They had the nerve to shout and threaten my 83 year old mother. I am reporting them th the Better Business Bureau. Their work was reviewed by three other professionals that are also going to report them. CHOOSE ANYONE ELSE!
I live in a brand new home under warranty. This house has had more problems than any other house we have lived in. I can't imagine all the shortcuts taken in building this house! as far as the warranty...my latest fight is a simple fix of a clogged pipe that I've been waiting for 3 weeks to be fixed. I can't touch it, or the whole warranty will be voided. This isn't the first time either...our entryway heater has not been working for months and it still hasn't been fixed! NOT RECOMMENDED!
Extorted money out of residents or would tow our cars right out of our driveways for not paying up on illegal charges. Gave us fines for breaking rules that did not exist, Threatening us with evictions if we didn't pay them off. In Manufactured home parks,We have the right to vote on new rules. We voted out their parking rules,on charging us for our cars. But they continued to do it anyways. Several people lost their vehicles, as they could not afford the tow fees. I have photos of cars being towed from my neighbors driveways!
Very disappointed. Make sure you read their contract closely and know what you are signing for. Communication is very poor. Sent numerous emails and left voice messages, NO ANSWERS.
These guys play dirty! They could care less about laws or anything else. They tried to shark several of us out of our homes
As good as it gets! The professional experience of this team shines from planning to job completion. Troy points out subtle aspects that would never cross the minds of laymen, yet have profound consequences: slope, drainage, safety, and aesthetics are but a few. I've never felt more confident that a contractor would fulfill my design to perfection.
Lacking customer serviceI would rather go somewhere else. Didn't follow protocol and seemed very confused about what I needed.
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.