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Shopping for a general contractor? How to find the right one

Hiring a general contractor for renovations, home additions, or to build a custom home isn’t an easy feat. It can also be an overwhelming process that might cause anxiety and loss of sleep. After all, your home is important to you. If you’re staying up, worried about making the right decision, it’s time to rest easy. We can help you find the right contractor with our helpful tips.

But first…

Before we give away our top tips, humour us and check out this neat infograhic about hiring a general contractor for any job around your home. It’ll give you a taste of what’s to come!


Ask friends and familychecklist

One of the easiest ways to find a contractor is to talk to who you know. Consult with friends and family who have used contractors for similar renovations you want done in your home. Come up with a list of pros and cons of hiring said contractors. You’ll want to find a contractor with all the pros you’re looking for, so you’re satisfied with your decision.

Look for specializations

Choosing a contractor that specializes in your specific needs is important and a great way to ensure that your needs are met during the renovation process. After all, you wouldn’t hire a painter to do general contracting work! Doing your research and looking for those specializations will make you happier with the end result since the professionals will be able to address both your needs and wants.

Ask lots of questions

When you’re in pursuit of hiring a contractor, you should have a detail conversation with your top contenders about the renovation. Be sure to ask questions!

  1. Ask if they’re available to work on your timeline. This is a great first question. If they’re not available to complete the work when you want it done because they’re booked, it means they’re a busy contractor. That’s good news because good contractors will have you waiting. If you’re not willing to wait, that’s the end of the conversation and you can move onto another contact.
  2. Ask to see their portfolio. You should have a good visual of what kind of work they’ve done in the past.
  3. Get samples! Even if you haven’t agreed to hire them yet, ask the contractor to show you samples of materials so you know you’re hiring someone who has access to the types of materials you want for your renovation project.
  4. Ask to meet them in person. After conducting phone interviews, you should have your list narrowed down. Ask those you are most interested in to meet you at your home in-person. That way, they can see the work involved and you can get an estimate for your vision.


Call references & former clients

It’s okay to ask for client recommendations. More importantly, ask for references for completed jobs similar to yours. Doing this can help you learn about the customer experience. That conversation can turn out to be a deal-breaker for you if you know about them upfront.

This video outlines a guide of how to conduct a proper background check on a contractor:

Develop a schedule of payments

Many homeowners have run into trouble paying for work upfront and the work either doesn’t get done or they’re not happy with it. Setting up a payment schedule where you see results before a payment is due is a great way to ensure that your work gets completed. Also, you should not provide your final payment until all the work is completed.

More related to this story: This decking contractor told us that he received lots of calls from new clients in the spring who provided a contractor a deposit and they didn’t complete the work. He has some tips on how to avoid this common scenario.

Don’t let price drive priority

Remember that the price of the project should not be your number one priority. If you can not afford to have the job done the exact way that you want it, that will actually save you money in the end.

  • You won’t have to pay additional money paying for a contractor’s mistake because it wasn’t your first choice.
  • You won’t have to dish out more money a few years later because you didn’t do the renovation you wanted and weren’t happy with it.

Scott McGillivray, the king of income properties, shares his tips on quotes and not letting money get in the way of your dream renovation:

Put it in writingcontract

Make sure that you have every single detail in writing. This is really important for your protection and to help protect the contractor as well. A contract ensures both your needs are met and gives you legal recourse should things go wrong.

Listen to your gut

If you have a bad feeling about someone, don’t hire them just because your friends or family highly recommended them. Go with your gut and choose the contractor that you can feel good about. You’ll feel good about your renovation too!

More related to this story: This homeowner hired a contractor for her basement renovations, but it didn’t turn out so well. She didn’t follow her internal instinct. It wasn’t until she hired the right contractor that she was able to rest easy and watch her basement transform into a perfect space.

Working with a general contractor should be a positive experience!

Working with a general contractor should be a positive experience!

Looking for a general contractor? Check out our directory of general contractors. Read reviews that customers have written; they’ll help you make an informed decision on who to hire!

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