Monthly Archives: January 2017

Choosing residential general contractor



With a new year, comes new opportunities.  People would like to take the opportunity to finally turn their house into a home.  Perhaps you would like to finally build that dream home or purchase that lake home..  Perhaps you need more space or just update areas of the home.  Choosing the right residential general contractor can be exhausting.  Here are some tips to narrow down your selection process.  Make sure the general contractor carries a valid license to perform the work they say they can.   A license can be verified through the State.  North Carolina for General Contractors at and ask for a copy of their insurance.  All subcontractors are required to be licensed and insured.

Do you have a set of plans?  A set of plans will allow you to make changes with the designer on paper.  Changes on paper is much easier to do and less expensive prior to the start date.  Avoid paying twice, once for the work to be completed the first time and than how you really want it.   Changes are always part of the process, to minimize during construction will save time and money.  Formulate a list of finishes, flooring, tile, cabinetry, etc.  The homeowner should provide photos of completed projects that the homeowner loves.  The photos can set expectations of the completed project.  Many sites can help, like Houzz or Pintrest.

Distribute the plans and list of finishes to the general contractors in consideration.   Make sure they are all bidding the same type of flooring, cabinetry, tile, plumbing fixtures, etc,  apples to apples otherwise you will have numbers of various ranges.  You may not know all the names of the finishes nor the model numbers, but the photos can fill in the blanks for the builder and questions can be asked and options provided.  We are trying to minimize the many options in this industry so that we are all pricing the same vision.  If the project involves numerous trades, the contractor should set up an appointment to walk through the home,   The electrician, framer, HVAC and plumbing contractor can determine the best ways to handle the project and uncover any hidden hurdles.

Did anyone come out and actually look at the job, were questions asked or did the general contractor just phone it in?  The homeowner will ask why does the price varies from one general contractor to another.  The answer is it should not vary greatly if we are all using the same quality products.  Some general contractors purchase through the big box stores and others will purchase from local stores.  The price difference is usually in labor.  The amount of time spent during the initial process is crucial in formulating an accurate bid.  Past experience with similar projects will indicate potential stumbling blocks.  All bids should be broken down, indicating where the money is being allocated.  Do not accept a bid with an address, a lump sum number and no detail.

When we look at a finished wall, a general contractor cannot see through the wall and the contractor will not cut numerous discovery holes into a wall, only to have to repair.   Site visits and past experience will allow the general contractor to locate existing pipes and can price with confidence.  The general contractor who does not take the time to do this, will cost you money later.  Only to start the job and than figure out they need more money to complete the job.

Now you have met with all the general contractors and looked at their pricing.  Now is the time to request their contract and draw schedule.  References, photos of past projects could be the deciding factor, but how about the relationship you have developed with the general contractor?  Have they been easy to contact?  Have they been responsive during the bidding process and offered up suggestions or alternatives?   This relationship is vital, a small project or large project will test your patience.  Choose a general contractor that will come through for you in the end, knowing they will stand by their pricing and provide a beautiful product.  Good Luck.