The time has come for you to finally tackle that project you have had your eye on for a while. Or maybe you are dealing with a leak that has caused extensive damage to parts of your home. There are endless reasons why you may be looking to hire a South Florida general contractor.
Yet, before taking that important step, you need to know how to hire a professional that has experience with the type of work you need, that will provide you with a clear written estimate that will explain everything that will get done and how much each part will cost, and whether they have the licenses and insurance they need to carry. With that information on hand, you will feel reassured that you have made the best decision and that your project will proceed as expected.
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Start the Search
Your search should start by gathering names of prospective contractors in your area. You may want to talk to neighbors that have had work done and see what experiences they have had with their contractors and whether their projects were carried out without a hitch. If no neighbors can help, maybe friends or colleagues can supply you with some names.
Make a List of Candidates
Before rushing to meet any of the possible candidates, check out their ratings online and get a feeling for their reputation. You may also want to verify that these contractors meet state-level qualifications. After this exercise, some names will come off the list.
Set Up Interviews
Some contractors may stop by your property for an initial interview while others will work well with a phone interview.
Prepare a list of pertinent questions which may include how many years they have been in business, whether they have experience with projects similar to yours, if you can see the work they have done for some of their clients, how soon they might be ready to start the project, how many days or weeks they expect such a project to take, and anything else pertinent to your situation.
You may also prepare a project brief prior to the interviews in which you describe in detail the work you need so that the contractor understands the scope and that you are serious about the project.
Look for Specific Qualifications
You may not know precisely what to look for when it comes to hiring a general contractor. If so, here are some points to look for:
- Make sure they have a general contractor license that is valid in the state where you live.
- Make sure their license is for residential work if that is what you need. Otherwise, check if they have a license that allows them to perform commercial work.
- Confirm that they have a state registration certificate.
- Verify that they hold all state-required certifications.
- Make sure that they carry valid and adequate insurance coverage, including liability and worker’s compensation.
It may take a while to confirm that all their paperwork and certificates are valid and have not expired but putting in the work now will save you from potential issues later on when trying to fix a shoddy job may result in expenses that are way beyond your ability to cover.
Check Their References
Any references that are provided to you during the initial interview need to be checked out. If these are prior clients, talk to them about the work the contractor did for them and, if possible, visit their homes to confirm that the work was done well and with quality materials.
If the contractor does not want or is unable to provide you with references, it may be a sign that either they have had no prior clients, that they have had issues with previous clients, or other situations that will only signal a red flag.
Once you have gone through the selection process, you may have two or three bids for your project. Although it is tempting to go with the least expensive one, you know that this is not always the best decision.
Consider the contractor´s experience, the way you were able to transmit your ideas to them, the suggestions they gave you to resolve your project, and whether you would feel comfortable having them work for you.
Read the Contract
Once you have selected a general contractor, take the time to read the contract including all fine print. Make sure it contains all details you had previously agreed upon and do not sign anything that does not look fully transparent to you. If any questions come up, ask your general contractor to clarify those points before signing.
Beware of Scams
A contractor who demands full payment before the work is even started is probably not someone you want to work with. Also, reject a contractor whose estimate is not clear and one who is unable to offer you project-specific details.