Tips for hiring a general contractor – Forbes Advisor

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Not all entrepreneurs are the same. Taking the time to find the right person for your project can be the difference between having a great experience or a miserable one. We asked our expert to enlighten us on this often neglected subject. You can use this information to foster a strong client-contractor relationship before signing anything.

Q: What are the red flags to watch out for when hiring a general contractor?

A: Anything that might seem unusual in other business relationships should be of concern to you. Asking for cash payments, refusing to write a contract, or not being able to provide proof of license and insurance, are all giant red flags. The most blatant red flag asks you to get your own license. Quickly flee this situation. Dealing with home sales representatives in the modern world is probably not a good idea either.

When I hire new subcontractors, I demand that they be on time for our first meeting. If they aren’t, I won’t hire them. I recommend the same tactic for owners. If a potential entrepreneur doesn’t respect your time initially, that’s a good sign that they won’t during the project either.

Q: What factors and situations often prevent a project from being completed on time?

A: Many of the factors that can slow down a renovation project cannot be controlled. Weather delays and pending orders for materials are common. Hidden pre-existing conditions in the home can also cause delays. These are often not obvious up front, even for the best entrepreneurs. Delays related to material delivery times, poor planning, worker shortages or permit issues can also occur.

To be considered a good entrepreneur, such delays must be kept to a minimum. Depending on what is involved, change orders requested by the customer can also affect the schedule.

Q: How do you decide what to charge and how do you charge the material costs?

A: Depending on the size of the project, there are two main ways to price the work. For small jobs like window replacement or minor damage repairs, prices are either pre-determined line items or simple estimates of materials and labor.

The pricing of major works, which may involve several subcontractors, is more complex. All contractor costs including materials, permits, subcontractor prices, disposal, labor, and overrun forecasts are calculated and then a markup is added. Hardware surcharges vary, but 40% to 60% is normal. Various other markups covering overhead and profit are also added, depending on the scope of the project.

Q: What type of tip percentage or system do you recommend?

A: You never expect to receive tips as an entrepreneur. The exception can be if you hire someone to do a small repair or a simple one-day renovation. In this case, if they did an exceptional job or went out of their way to meet a request, adding a $ 25 extra, or rounding up a little on the check is never forgotten. Talking to your peers about a job well done, as well as sharing their phone number, really is the ultimate prize.

Q: Are there some common customer behaviors or missteps that make your job more difficult?

A: The know-it-all client is difficult for any entrepreneur to deal with. This can cause big problems during a big project. Price checkers are boring, but not hard to appease with honest communication. If a potential client insists that his brother-in-law take care of the plumbing, “because he’s pretty good at it,” I simply refuse the project.

Q: Do you have any horror stories about interacting with a customer?

A: After completing a major renovation, a customer asked me to remove a window and reinstall it the right way. He would not pay the last installment, which was quite large, until then. After trying to convince him that it is correctly installed and showing him the related documents, he did not budge.

To end the stalemate, we called the city’s code inspector. She met us and confirmed that the window met code requirements and was installed correctly. He finally paid his bill and I had a thank you gift sent to his office.


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