Residential general contractors (GCs) provide home remodeling expertise. They can help you with larger projects, manage new construction or add-ons, and execute a building plan that keeps you on schedule and budget.
It is essential to remember that a general contractor is not the same as a handyman, repair specialist, or home improvement professional.
General contractors work with specific architectural and design ideas that provide your living space with a better environment. They can make better use of what is already established or create something new.
That means a general contractor coordinates all of the home improvement specialists that may be necessary for a specific project.
Projects That Need a General Contractor
Any significant remodeling project can benefit from a general contractor’s presence.
Did you know that the average kitchen update can take up to five months to complete? You might need a plumber, cabinetry specialist, an electrician, painter, and appliance installer all working together to finish the job. A general contractor ensures that you get the coordination needed with a fair price for labor and materials.
Most general contractors will even do some of the work themselves. If you don’t feel like tackling a DIY project of that size and scope, hiring someone is the better choice.
Here are some basic guidelines to consider if you’re wondering about the benefits of hiring a general contractor for your project.
- Anything that takes more than a week to complete could likely benefit from having a general contractor available.
- If the work requires several professionals, hire a GC.
- When the update requires permits to complete the work, a general contractor is a worthy investment.
How to Avoid a GC Horror Story
When you start looking for a residential general contractor to complete some work, you’ll discover numerous horror stories of people who had poor experiences.
If you decide to hire a GC, following a few guidelines can ensure that you stay protected against scammers and fraudulent individuals. These warning signs should serve as red flags that show problems could be in your future.
1. The GC only accepts cash.
Although paying in cash is fine, it doesn’t leave the same paper trail as credit or debit cards. If you don’t receive services according to your contract, that evidence helps you to get your money back. When you don’t have those records, it’s harder to recover.
2. You get something other than a professional interaction.
A professional interaction from a general contractor includes a bid for services, an itemized list of repairs, and a schedule of completion. If you encounter someone who tries to scare you into additional repairs, wants the entire job paid for before starting, or demands a lien to begin, you should speak with someone else.
If you are told that some repairs are urgent, have at least two other GCs look at the issue for bids. You’ll have a better idea of what you’re told is the truth.
3. You receive an extended warranty.
Most GCs guarantee their work for 1-2 years. A handful of specialists might go into the 3- to 5-year range. Anything beyond that, unless you know in advance that there is a reason for an exceptional warranty, is a warning sign of a scam.
4. You get asked to secure the permits.
Any general contractor that requests you get the permits needed for a project is a person or company to avoid. Part of their work is to manage the administrative end of the remodeling or construction work you’re doing. If they don’t want to go through the application process, go in a different direction.
5. The GC offers a lowball price.
Some people will say that a client reneged on a project or that your work will serve as a demonstration. Although there can be times when this actually happens, it is usually a warning sign that suggests you should stay away.
If your GC doesn’t have a listed phone number, avoid this situation entirely.
Always Read Your Contracts
Before you sign anything with a residential general contractor, make sure you read and understand the terms and conditions.
Always ask for clarification if you are uncertain about something in the contract’s language. If the GC refuses to answer or expresses frustration with your review, that cue is an indicator that something problematic could be happening.
Most general contractors perform an excellent job to provide you with enjoyable space to use at home. When you follow these practical safeguards, your money has a better chance of doing positive things.