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  • Writer's pictureMeghan Turner-Patel

6 Tips for How to Hire a General Contractor

There are a lot of home contractors out there. Hiring the right one requires these steps.

A home contractor working with his tools while outside

A simple Google for “general contractor” will bring about an overwhelming number of options. But how can you tell which home contractors are reputable and reliable? This is an incredibly important decision because you’re entrusting this person with your home, your money and your time. Thankfully, our pros know exactly how to hire a general contractor that is trustworthy and experienced. research, meetings and thoughtfulness.

That’s where this checklist comes in. It will guide you when hiring a contractor for any home remodeling project. By completing this due diligence, it’ll likely save you a lot of time, money and stress – or even from having to find a new contractor to finish a job that went awry.

What is a General Contractor?

Let’s start with the basics: What is a general contractor? A GC is a professional who is hired on a contractual basis to perform a home remodeling service. Some home contractors are capable of lots of services, such as we are at South Land Remodeling. Another type of contractor is one who specializes in one or two areas.

What does a General Contractor Do?

At South Land Remodeling, our specialties include a full suite of home improvement services, including a kitchen remodel, bathroom renovation, home addition, whole-home remodel, accessory dwelling unit (ADU), landscaping and pools, and more.

Given our vast expertise in home remodeling, here are our pro tips on how to hire a general contractor to manage your construction project:

1. Check the Home Contractors’ Reviews & References

When looking at that massive list of Google results, cross-check contractors’ reviews on Google, Yelp, Facebook, HOUZZ, etc. Read what people have to say about their experience with that pro. It’s enlightening. Additionally, feel free to ask contractors for references so you can directly speak to their clients about their home remodeling experience.

2. Ensure the Contractor is Licensed & Insured

This is one of the biggest safety precautions that protect you and your home. Ask your prospective general contractors if they’re licensed and insured. In fact, go a step farther and check that their license number is still active by searching your state’s contractor license database. Click here to search the California license database.

3. Meet at Least Three Contractors

After doing your online research and speaking to the contractors on the phone or over email, it’s important to meet contractors in-person. This gives you a sense of the contractors’ disposition and allows you to ask more questions face-to-face. Here are some important questions you should ask:

  • How many similar projects has the contractor completed?

  • Will the project be completed in a timely manner?

  • What is the contractor’s expected completion date?

  • What are the days and hours in which the crew will work on your home?

  • Who else is a part of the contractor’s team, including subcontractors and suppliers (thus who else could be in your home or supporting the project’s progress)?

  • Who would be your point of contact and manage the day-to-day?

  • How regularly will you receive progress reports?

  • Can he/she help with building permits, if necessary?

  • How will the contractor keep the job site clean?

  • What happens if the crew damages something during construction?

  • How much will the project cost and what is the payment schedule?

  • When is the first and final payment due?

  • What can be done if you’re dissatisfied with any of the finished work?

4. Compare Prices & Up-Front Costs

After those meetings, you’ll likely receive a formal bid. Compare those bids to get a solid sense of who is in-budget and who may be overcharging. Also, be cautious when hiring anyone who requests more than 10% or $1,000 upfront. Legally, the standard is to charge 10% of the total contract or $1,000, whichever is lesser.

5. Thoroughly Read the Contract

This very important document should protect the contractor and you. Make sure it does the latter. A detailed contract will include specifics on the construction, timeline and costs, and your interests/concerns should be addressed. After you’ve combed through it, don’t be afraid to ask the contractor questions and for appropriate revisions.

6. Go with Your Gut

When you have completed your research, phone meetings, in-person meetings and cost/contract review, you should be at a point where you can gauge your comfort level with the home contractor and with their cost. Trust your intuition, particularly regarding any red flags. Does the general contractor have a personality that jives with yours? Does he have integrity? Do you believe he’ll keep you in the loop and respect your home as well as your wallet? In the end, it says a lot if your gut tells you he’ll make a good partner in your home project.

Do you live in the greater Los Angeles area? We’re a seasoned, licensed and highly rated general contractor who can help! Contact us today for a free quote on your home renovation project.



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