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Top 3 Good and Bad Signs for Choosing a General Contractor

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Updated: 10/19/2022
A Contactor

Whether you're building a home from scratch, creating an addition or doing a major home renovation, it's often necessary to hire a general contractor to oversee the project. The modern working individual is simply too busy with work, children, and life to oversee all the different people that will be involved in a major home project. It takes time to make sure the electrician arrives before the plumber, before the interior specialist, etc. 

However, it can make a big difference in the timeline, cost, and general quality of the project outcome, depending on the quality and reliability of the general contractor you choose. Take a look at the top 3 good and bad signs to look for when choosing your next general contractor.

Top 3 Signs of a Good General Contractor

They Show Up on Time

Not unlike a standard job interview, it makes a huge positive impression to show up on time. If they are late or aren't able to show up, and have called over 24 hours in advance, this is also a plus. This shows in general that the contractor is organized, and will handle your project in an organized fashion. If they are late or don't show up at all, it's probably time to find a new general contractor.

They Have References

It's a huge asset to you if your general contractor can quickly supply, without hesitation, 3 – 5 previous client references when you ask for them. This is a sign that many people have been pleased with the work, or they wouldn't be references. If you ask for references and the contractor starts stumbling, saying, "oh, um – I'll get back to you, um, in a few days with that" – you should be wary.

They Talk About Their Process

When contractors are open and willing to discuss their process with you, this is a great sign of transparency. It means that as the project goes on progress, you'll always be in the loop about how things are going and why delays happen because they always will. If your contractor is vague and seems to want to constantly reassure you with an "everything will be alright, don't worry about it" attitude, you might have a problem. Remember, even though they're paid to make sure everything is okay, so you don't have to – you're still the boss.

Top 3 Signs of a Bad General Contractor

They Seem Angry and Rushed

General contractors have tough jobs. There's no doubt about that. They're constantly wrangling dozens of foremen and specialists on as many different job sites, and it's stressful. However, this is their job and they're paid well for it. If your contractor starts making you feel rushed and bad about asking questions – it's time for a new one. You can risk the successful communication of your home improvement project based on a bad attitude.

They Can't Name Who They Use

In the contracting business, contractors will typically work repeatedly with specialists they like, such as plumbers and electricians. When they find people they can trust, who trust them, they don't waste time looking all over the place when they need some good work. If you ask, "who do you usually use for Plumbing, electric, etc.?" and your general contractor has zero names to supply, that's a bad sign. This probably means no one likes working with them because they're unreliable or have a bad attitude – find a new contractor.

They Sound Like They've Never Done This Before

Everybody needs to start somewhere, but it's not uncommon for people to think they can get a piece of the pie as a general contractor by acting as a middleman – without knowing what they're doing. If your general contractor simply seems unknowledgeable about the building process, general costs, and construction in general – you probably shouldn't use them. It doesn't matter if they're nice or even smart as a person. If they don't know about the business, it's going to hurt you and cost you money in the end.

By following these simple steps and using common sense, you'll be able to spot a great general contractor vs. a bad one. The biggest thing is you need to take the time upfront to pay attention to these details and do the research. It will pay off down the road. It's a lot easier to take more time to find the right general contractor than it is to take the time, and money, to undo bad work and redo it over again.

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