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8 things you should know before hiring a general contractor

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Any construction project, whether it be masonry work, roof repair or replacement, facade restoration, foundation repairs, or a new concrete pavement, could be a frustrating, time-consuming, and expensive affair for the homeowners or property managers if it is not well planned and organized from the beginning. We are general contractors based in New York with over 15 years of experience. We will share with you eight points, which will help you plan and run your project smoothly and get you the results you expect.

  1. Do your research on contractors before contacting them. Get your detective hat on. Check their reviews on different platforms like Google, Yelp, and Better Business Bureau. Lookup the firm’s social media pages; this will give you an idea of the firm’s internal culture. Make a list of 3 to 4 contractors who struck out to you and get ready to contact them.
  2. The first question you should ask any contractor is, are they licensed to perform your desired scope of work in the area your project is located? You can confirm the contractor’s license by looking it up on your State’s Building Department website. In New York, you can look up the contractor’s license on the NYDOB website.
  3. Once you have introduced yourself and explained your project to the contractor, ask them if they will be willing to bid on your project. A good contractor will provide you with a detailed estimate that should include the cost of labor, material, overhead, and work duration. The contractors do not charge for the estimates. Now you will have 3 to 4 bids to review for your construction project.
  4. The lowest bid doesn’t always mean it is the best option for you. We have taken over many projects left unfinished by the original contractor due to the bid being very low. The contractor ran out of money, thus costing the owner more money to complete the project.
  5. Asking for references from contractors for similar projects they have worked on is a crucial factor in your decision-making process. Follow up on the references by doing a thorough check.
  6. All contractors are required insurance policies to perform work, but policies differ depending on the construction project. At a minimum, New York State requires Worker’s Compensation, General Liability, and Disability Insurance. Check that your contractor has these, so all parties are protected — the labor, the contractor, and yourself.
  7. By now, you must have a good idea about the firms which submitted the bids for your project. It is time to select your top 2 or top 3 contractors and interview them before making your final decision.
  8. Great, now you have made a decision and selected the firm which will perform the work. Before starting any work, make sure to have the contractor draft a contract based on the same bid submitted earlier; this is important because it gives you protection if anything goes wrong along the way.

A construction project is a big step for many people. It could be a very exciting and pleasing experience if planned well from the beginning and executed accordingly.

The author of this article is Ali Anwar, principal at Aarco Contracting.

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