How To Hire A General Contractor

Getting ready to hire a general contractor to work on a metal building? If so, you probably have a lot of questions about working with home contractors. How do you select the right one for your project, and what pitfalls do you need to avoid? Let’s go over some recommendations for hiring a contractor.

  1. Know what you want and need—and what a general contractor can do.

A good first step is to make sure you can visualize a clear outcome for your project. You need to know your obstacles and goals in order to pick a contractor that is the right fit. The more specialized your project is, the more important it is to choose a contractor with experience with that type of project.

Also, many people think that a general contractor handles design. In reality, most general contractors have minimal involvement in design, if any. So, you will need to hire somebody else to work with you on the design aspect of your project before you select a general contractor.

  1. Shop around.

The next step in selecting a general contractor is much the same as it is with just about any other service you can name, and that is to shop around.

Don’t just research different contractors and then request a quote from the one that looks best. Make multiple quote requests for the same project, and compare the quotes you receive and other aspects of the contractors. Your goal is not to pick the cheapest, but to find the best value.

 

  1. Check licensing and insurance.

You may be asking, “How do I find out if my contractor is licensed?” You will need the license number for the company, and then you will need to enter it into the database offered by the licensing board in your state to see if it is active.

Make sure you check both the active status and to make sure the license number you receive is a match with the company name (and does not belong to some other contractor).

Also, it is essential for your general contractor to have insurance coverage. Make specific inquiries about that coverage so that you can make sure that you will not have to cover any mishaps or losses if there are problems on site.

 

  1. Find out what subcontractors the general contractor uses.

General contractors manage a variety of subcontractors to work on your project on site. Since that is the case, you need to inquire about which subcontractors will work on your project. Their quality needs to be up to par for you to entrust them with your job.

You should be able to arrange for an introduction to the foreman. Talk to him at another worksite and see if you get a good impression of his capabilities.

 

  1. Ask for references and check them.

Far too often, we ask for references, and then are tempted to blow off checking them. But in the case of hiring a general contractor for your metal building project, it is essential to call the references you are given and ask them questions about their experiences.

You can also request to have a look at the completed project. Some previous customers may be willing to oblige you.

 

  1. Do not make an unnecessarily large deposit.

You should not expect to pay more than around 10% as a deposit on your project. Indeed, you should check your state’s laws to see what the maximum legal deposit size is. For example, 10% is the cap in California (not to exceed $1,000).

After that, you can expect to pay 25% three times as the project is underway (spaced evenly). You pay the last 15% when the project is done and you are satisfied.

There may be variations on this schedule, but it represents a typical example. But the bottom line is that you should never pay an illegal deposit.

 

  1. Give your contractor specific instructions regarding your property.

You can give a general contractor specific instructions about when to show up on a worksite and when to leave, as well as let them know what facilities (i.e. the toilet) they can and cannot access while on your property.

So, if you have any particular needs, make sure you lay them out clearly in advance so everyone is on the same page.

 

  1. Be aware of the “mechanic’s lien.”

So, here is something a lot of prospective clients do not know. There is something called a “mechanic’s lien” that is very important to be aware of. Such a lien, if legal in your state, could make you liable for unexpected charges.

Basically, there may be situations where a contractor fails to pay a subcontractor or a materials supplier. This could happen if the contractor is in debt, or if the contractor simply is not trustworthy.

You would think that would be the contractor’s problem, right?

After all, you paid what you owed the contractor, and they now are the ones who owe the other party.

But in states where there are mechanic’s lien laws, that may not be the case. Indeed, the financial responsibility for settling the cost could rest with you.

Say, for example, that your general contractor did not pay the electrician who worked on your project. The electrician is owed the money, and chooses to invoke the mechanic’s lien law and put a lien against your property.

You are now forced to pay that bill, even though you did nothing wrong. So, look up whether this type of law exists in your state. If it does, just be extra careful. Make sure that your contractor gets lien releases from any parties that could feasibly put a lien on your property. You can get this in writing.

But so long as you are working with a reputable, licensed contractor that is financially healthy, you should not encounter any problems.

 

  1. Draw up a timetable and a contract, and make sure you are satisfied before signing and proceeding.

You may be excited to dive right into your project, but before you do, make sure you have a realistic timeline established and have gone over it with the contractor.

Before any work begins, you will need to sign a contract that lays out all of the details regarding the work.

The contract will include:

  • The schedule for the project’s completion
  • The schedule for the payments
  • Proof of insurance
  • Proof of worker’s compensation payments
  • Lien release details
  • What materials will go into the project
  • The cost of the project
  • Any further details that you and the contractor feel are important to cement in writing

 

Review the contract carefully, and do not be afraid to ask questions or request modifications.

Only after you are comfortable with the contract in its entirety should you sign it and proceed with the project.

 

Taking Time and Care While Selecting a General Contractor Pays Off

Now you know how to search for a general contractor that is right for your project, how to check their licensing, and how to investigate other information about how they handle payments, subcontractors and more.

It can feel daunting, as there are many steps involved, and it takes time and effort to check references, licensing status and other pertinent information.

But any building project is a major endeavor, and it is worth putting in that extra legwork. Doing so could end up saving you thousands of dollars now and over the lifetime of your building. It will also ensure that the job is done to your specifications and that you are happy with both the process and the result. Good luck choosing a general contractor, and continue exploring our site for more guides to help you with your metal building project.