Hiring a general contractor (GC) for your home building, renovation or addition project is essential. It’s also essential that you find one that is what they say they are, can be trusted to do what they say they’ll do and has a proven record of delivering for their customers. While this may seem like a daunting task it’s actually easier, or at least less complicated, than you might imagine. Below we’ll provide a few tips to help you find a GC that’s worth the investment you’ll make in them.
Finding a General Contractor That’s the Real Deal
The hardest part of your general contractor experience will be finding one you can rely on. While most GCs are hard working, dedicated professionals it’s the few unscrupulous ones that can ruin your day. You’ll need to weed them out before you sign on any dotted lines. Here’s how you do that.
- Start with preliminary research – Find out the licensing requirements for GCs in your area before you meet with anyone to discuss your project. When you finally do sit down to interview GCs ask them if their licenses are up to date and then ask to see the license. If they get uncomfortable or defensive you’ve got a problem and it’s time to move on.
- Insist on proof of insurance – The GC should be fully covered for property damage and liability as well as workman’s compensation. Politely insist on seeing proof of coverage and if they balk thank them and move on. If they are not properly insured you could be opening yourself up to all manner of liability. It’s just not worth it.
- Ask for references – Ask for references and follow up with them. Ask past clients about their experience and whether the contractor finished the work on time and on budget. Take references with a grain of salt though, as you can be sure the GC won’t refer you to unsatisfied customers. Buttress your reference checks with a call to the Toronto Better Business Bureau and the local consumer protection agency.
- Talk to subcontractors – Ask the potential GC about subcontractors he/she usually works with then check on them as well. If they check out call them and ask if they have anything they’d like to say about working with the GC. They’ll likely say the GC is wonderful (especially if they want to work with him/her again) so don’t expect much. But check anyway. You never know.
- Do a background check – Everything the potential GC says about him/herself may be supported by past clients, the BBB and the subcontractors, but if you really want to know who you’re working with there are hundreds of websites that will do a criminal background check for a nominal fee. Sure, people deserve a second chance but you also have a right to know if the person you’re working with has a history of violent crime.
If you’ve been diligent about the process you should wind up working with a general contractor who will build your dreams rather than inhabit your nightmares. So be skeptical, be thorough and reap the rewards.
For more than 15 years Karen Homes has been helping homeowners in greater Toronto realize their dreams through the building of custom homes, the renovation of existing homes and home additions that allow families to accommodate their expanding lifestyle requirements. If you’re in search of a general contractor to handle your home building project give us a call on (416) 661-6006. We’ll be happy to answer your questions and address your concerns. We encourage you to check us out and are confident you’ll be happy with what you discover.