How to Hire a General Contractor

The planning process for hiring a general contractor can seem overwhelming. It can be helpful to break out the process steps and identify the most important stages.

It is critical to outline your budget, timeline, and consider various general contractors for your project. But researching the best general contractor for the job can be a large, daunting task. You want a contractor who’s done work similar to your current needs before. Pay attention to how large or small the scope of your project is in relation to the general contractor’s historical projects. Another big question when considering your general contractor is: do you plan to use a separate architect? Or do you desire a contractor that is a design-build construction company - that is, a contractor who can provide the design portion of your project in-house? You also want to ensure the contractor has been in business with a history of providing this work for a long time.

Another important element when selecting a general contractor is inspecting reviews and recommendations. Search for and read the reviews of the contractor - and compare the various contractors you are researching. Is there a chance you know, or are there any opportunities to talk to, former clients of the contractor? If your project is a renovation project, local landlords have probably used general contractors for their buildings’ “white box” construction (adapting previous tenant spaces to generic, convertible space). Local landlords also have probably used contractors to build and finish tenants’ move-in ready constructed space. See if there are opportunities to find and contact these landlords for recommendations. Of course the general contractors themselves should provide a list of references.

How to Hire a General Contractor

When contacting the contractors, there are some upfront, obvious questions to consider. Do the construction company representatives speak with respect, professionalism and excitement for your project? Do they answer questions directly, or give you the runaround?

Ps and Qs aside, there are critical planning and consideration issues to handle when investigating a general contractor; such as licensing. Your contractor should be licensed - specifically in the location where your building project will take place. You want to ensure the contractor has a history of easily obtaining the permits for the necessary work, since your building is going to require them. Insurance also should be high on the list of your considerations for a general contractor.

Timing is another critical component. Is the contractor confident they can start and finish the project by your deadlines? Do they have a reported history of meeting their previous project timelines?

Hiring a general contractor may seem a daunting task, however there are specific items to look for and easily mark off your list for selection. Do you need an outside architect, or a design-build contractor? Does the construction company size fit the project scope? Look for reviews, recommendations and opportunities to talk to past contractor clients. You want a contractor who will treat you with respect and is excited about your project. Look for contractors with licensing, insurance and previous project permits. Finally, you want to hire a general contractor with a history of completing projects on time.

Want more? Read about Buildrite’s design-build construction services.