How to Find a Good General Contractor

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Remodeling a bathroom or kitchen requires making thousands of decisions. But one of the most significant ones you’ll make is selecting the right general contractor to oversee the project.

A general contractor, or GC, is the person who’ll be in charge of your renovation. (If you need help with the design too, consider using a design-build contractor). Finding the right general contractor is critical because the GC is involved in every aspect of the project, including:

  • Monitoring the budget
  • Getting the necessary permits
  • Finding and scheduling workers, including licensed plumbers and electricians
  • Ordering supplies
  • Meeting deadlines to keep to your desired timeframe

Where to Look for a General Contractor

The best way to find a general contractor is to talk to people who’ve used a GC recently and ask if they’d recommend them.

If your friends or neighbors recently completed a home improvement project, see if they’ll give you a referral. Request details, like what the project entailed, the quality of the work, and how well the GC communicated with them.

You should also always interview more than one GC before hiring the right person for the job, so you may need to look beyond recommendations from friends. If you live in a condo or co-op, ask the managing agent or board what they know about local contractors. The building manager may keep a list of GCs who have performed work for residents and know which ones are reliable. If possible, find out who in the building hired them in the past and contact them for a recommendation.

Many real estate agents maintain a list of contractors they recommend to clients as well, so they’re a good source of contractor names if you’ve recently purchased a home.

Finding General Contractors on the Web

Several well-known websites can help you find local contractors that can perform the kind of work you’re looking for. Some of the most reliable include:

These sites recommend contractors based on your zip code and desired project. They also provide reviews from previous clients and some even verify that the contractor is licensed.
Recommendations from these websites will help you narrow your options, but you should still interview each GC before signing a contract.

Before Hiring a General Contractor

Talk to at least three contractors who come highly recommended. During the interview, find out:

  • If the contractor has experience in the kind of project you have in mind
  • If the contractor accepts jobs of the size and scope you’re looking for
  • How long the GC has worked with their subcontractors
  • If the contractor has the required licenses, liability insurance, and workers’ compensation insurance. (In New York City, you can easily confirm the contractor has a license here.)

Use the interview to see if the contractor communicates well and if you’d be comfortable working with them. The GC will be your main point of contact for everything related to the renovation, so you should feel like you can trust them implicitly. He or she may be in your home daily during the project too, so comfort and good communication are essential.

Finding the right general contractor can take time. Still, it’s worth the effort to ensure your remodeling project will be handled by a pro who can deliver the bathroom you want on time and on budget.

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