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How Do You Select a General Contractor?

A general contractor or GC handles most medium and large construction jobs in San Antonio. The general contractor goes under several names:  a builder, building contractor, remodeling contractor, etc. What makes him a general contractor? He enters into a contract with the owner to complete a project and takes full responsibility to get the job done for the bid price.  That makes the general contractor the most important person on the project. How do you select a general contractor?

How Do You Select a General Contractor?

When selecting a general contractor, the most important question to ask? Are you licensed?”
Most states or counties as well as many large cities or townships license contractors; other jurisdictions require them registration. As a rule, licensing entails passing a test to measure competency, while registering involves only payment of a fee. If a problem arises, a government agency can pursue a licensed or registered contractor on your behalf.

Ask Questions

Consumers Report writes, “Ask for a list of previous customers; then call them or, better yet, visit their homes to look at the work. Ask some penetrating questions such as these:”

  • Would you hire this contractor again?
  • Were you satisfied with the quality of the work?
  • How did the contractor handle cleanup each day?
  • Was the contractor easy to talk to?
  • How did the contractor handle differences and work changes?
  • Was the job completed on time and at the bid? If not, why not?

Industry groups recommend that when selecting a general contractor, you get a written estimate from at least three contractors.  An estimate should detail the work, the materials needed, the labor required, and the length of time the job will take. You should obtain multiple estimates. An estimate can evolve into a bid—a more detailed figure based on plans with actual dimensions. Seeking more than one bid increases your odds of paying less. Once agreed to and signed by you and the contractor, a bid becomes a contract.

Beware the Lowest Bid when Selecting a General Contractor

“The lowest bid doesn’t necessarily mean it rates as the best bid.  It could mean a desperate contractor.” Make sure you compare apples to oranges. You might also buy your own materials to make sure the contractor doesn’t substitute cheaper materials.

With a contractor, you want a project manager who will manage the sub-trades, make sure they are cooperative, and stick to the schedule. Ask how the subs are paid, how often.

Get it in Writing

Draw up a contract that details every step of the project: payment schedule; proof of liability insurance and worker’s compensation payments; a start date and projected completion date; specific materials and products to be used; and a requirement that the contractor obtain lien releases (which protect you if he doesn’t pay his bills) from all subcontractors and suppliers. It does not mean mistrust to Insist on a clear contract. It does ensure a successful renovation.

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