How to Select a General Contractor

Aug 5, 2021

Follow these easy steps to success with your building and remodeling projects

Thinking about a remodel? It’s never too early to start planning. A crucial step is selecting a general contractor to perform the work. The problem is that choosing a contractor is stressful. You are worried about going over budget and finding someone who does high-quality work. Not to worry, we are here to help!

Step 1: Get Three Estimates

Never go with the first bid! Not only will you ensure you get competitive pricing, interviewing contractors can help you flush out your ideas. Make sure you review each estimate in detail to know what the differences are. Pay attention to how they respond during this process as it will give you insight into how they will react to questions and challenges.

Step 2:  Budget and Timing

Keeping a project on budget and on time is no small feat. Before you begin, spend time roughing out your budget. If you have a $10,000 budget in mind and the contractor submits a price estimate of $20,000, there is an expectation gap. Ask the contractor for advice on how to rescope the project. Be sure to think through and communicate your timeline. Is this something you want to have done immediately, or can it be broken into certain phases to alleviate financial or timeline constraints? Pro tip: never pay for the entire project upfront. This will protect you from getting ripped off.

Step 3: Request Drawings From Your General Contractor

To avoid early miss communications, ask the contractor to provide you with concept drawings. A simple sketch can help you prevent misunderstandings, and it allows you to identify your top priorities. This sketch also might help you find ways to maximize your project’s function and value. If you don’t feel comfortable having them in your home due to COVID-19 restrictions, ask if they can do a consultation over video instead.

Ste 4: Ask for Samples

General contractors usually have good relationships with their suppliers and should have catalogs, spec charts, and samples available, often at no cost. For example, Durango Wood Company offers a variety of wood species samples, trim profiles, and more. Contractors can stop by the showroom in Durango or at Doors and More in Pagosa Springs to look at our window, door, and hardware selections. Come along with them and see what we are all about!

Step 5: Ask About Their Experience As A General Contractor

Often, there is no better teacher than experience, especially in the contracting world. You have a grand vision, and you need to trust that the contractor you hire can bring it to reality. An experienced contractor might offer suggestions that are better and more cost-effective. And they will know how to handle the ongoing issues and challenges that come up on a remodel project because they’ve seen it before. Also, an experienced contractor will have the proper licenses and insurance; don’t be too shy to request proof of these important documents. They will protect you and the contractor.

Step 6: Working Relationship

Relationships are everything, especially when tackling a remodel project. There is a good chance something won’t go as expected, and you’ll need to talk through these challenges. Find someone you can trust and who sees your vision. Communication is key to a successful project. Rely on their experience and respect their knowledge.

Step 7: Ask for Examples

Ask for photographs of their previous projects. This will ensure that their workmanship aligns with your tastes, vision, and goals.

Step 8: Confirm Materials and Products

The quality and style of the products and materials used can make or break a project. Sure, a lower-priced product or material may look similar but does not have the same lifetime traits as higher quality and priced products. Be prepared to answer, “How long are you going to be in your home.” This answer may help your contractor understand your vision and offer different solutions based on time, quality, and budget. Maximizing your value while achieving your goal is always a good feeling.

Step 9:  References

Asking for and calling references might just be the most important thing you can do to ensure you are selecting the right partner. Ask for at least three references from past clients and follow up with them to find out how the contractor performed. Check out Google reviews, too, but always, always check references.

Step 10: Enjoy the Outcome

You deserve a home you are proud of. Remodels are never easy, but the outcome is SO rewarding, especially when you take the time to select the right general contractor to help you bring together your vision.

We are happy to help you and your contractor select the right doors, windows, and millworks for your next project. Please stop by and see us at our Durango or Pagosa Spring locations to find out more. Or simply give us a call 970-247-2088, and we can walk you through our process over the phone.