For the average homeowner, weeding through the Yellow Pages or Internet to find the right general contractor is about as pleasant as going to the dentist to have them drill for oil in your mouth. Finding a qualified contractor that prioritizes customer satisfaction can seem like a daunting task and probably leaves you with several questions, such as:
- Where do you start?
- What’s the most important factor to consider? Price? Reliability? Credibility? References? Longevity? Some or all of these?
- Many different web-based companies offer to help you choose a “qualified” general contractor; but are they unbiased, or do they have their own agenda?
If this situation describes your feelings when home improvement time rolls around, you are not alone! Many people today dread hiring a general contractor because they have heard so many horror stories and are unsure of how to avoid repeating someone else’s mistake(s).
Don’t despair! With a few pointed questions, either delivered in person or even over the phone, you can easily weed out unqualified candidates that only offer a tail light guarantee (“I guarantee my work for as long as my tail lights are visible!”). Vetting your options guarantees you will end up in the hands of a reputable, experienced, qualified contractor that treats your home as if it’s their own.
Here are a Few Questions That Will Help You Find the Right General Contractor:
1. “Are you a State licensed General Contractor?” – Most professional trades have some amount of overlap concerning skills, abilities, and procedures. A General Contractor is required to have a comprehensive knowledge base that will cover a variety of situations. State GC licensure requires periodic retraining and retesting, so you can remain confident that a licensed GC is aware of and is practicing up-to-date trade building procedures and ethics.
2. “Do you use sub-contractors, or employees?” – This is a VERY important question to ask! A general contractor that uses subs leaves you open to the age old question: “Who is ultimately responsible if and when I have a problem?” When issues or concerns arise, you do not want to discover a cluster of finger pointers with no responsible person in sight. A contractor that uses hired employees is taking all the responsibility upon themselves to make sure that you are happy with your work at the end of the project.
3. “Do you carry workers’ compensation coverage, or exemption?” – Again, this point cannot be overstated. Exemption limits the general contractor’s liability in case of injury or accident, and can actually leave you open for liability if someone carries on unsafe practices on your property. A contractor with full workers’ compensation coverage demonstrates that they already value you enough as a potential customer to protect your person and property.
4. “Do you perform background checks and drug test your employees? Can you prove it?” – Statistically, most burglars that commit home robberies are someone that has already been in the house. A responsible, reputable general contractor will pay the money up front to protect you and your family from potential danger not only because that is what you deserve, but also because employees are a reflection and responsibility of the contractor that hires them.
5. “Why should I choose you over someone else?” – A good general contractor is not necessarily the cheapest one, especially when you consider all the things listed above that they should have done long before you call them. While price is a factor, Benjamin Franklin said it best when he observed that “the bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.” After all, what is more important to you? Saving a few bucks for a single purchase and then experiencing years of frustration and regret, or having the deep satisfaction of knowing that you got exactly what you paid for?
Rather than focusing on dollar amounts exclusively, ask the contractor to explain what they offer you in the way of products, service, and options; then shop around to see if other companies can offer you the same for a lower cost. Remember, don’t just take a salesperson’s word for it.
Is their product the best? Prove it in writing! Is their company the best? Again, prove it! What documentation can they provide that supports their claim? Evaluating a company’s performance and offerings beforehand will help you to get your money’s worth, instead of ending up with a shopping cart full of the latest snake oil available.
In review, finding a golden needle in the haystack of businesses is not impossible, provided you take it upon yourself to evaluate candidates. By asking the right questions and placing value on proof of success over sales pitches, you can find your match made in general contractor heaven!
To make your search even simpler, look no further than The Solar Guys!
Call 866-641-1963 today to get a free estimate.