Evaluating General Contractors

Do your Homework before Hiring a General Contractor

By Mark J. Donovan

Question: Mark, I’m planning to have a home built and am in need of hiring a general contractor. In evaluating general contractors in building a home, I know you state you need to check references but what other qualifications do you look for or other resources do you use to evaluate a general contractor. For example, does the contractor need to be certified in any areas, belong to BBB or professional organizations. Also, do you research them to see if they’ve had any lawsuits filed against them?

What do you suggest? I know references are a good source but contractors only provide the ones that are going to give glowing reviews. Let me know your thoughts.

Answer: E.L., First, I still believe that checking contractor references is the best bet when evaluating general contractors. When the contractors give you references make sure they provide you with about a half dozen or so, and at least a couple of them should be from older projects (e.g. a couple of years ago).

Second, yes check with the Better Business Bureau (BBB). You can do this on line and they’ll give you a rating for the company.

Third, check with Angie’s list or Yelp for general contractor reviews. See my YELP Contractor Review Page and type in the contractor/business name along with the city/state. If there are reviews on the general contractor you’re considering to hire they’ll be reported in this list.

Forth, check with your local building inspector. They may say little, but on the other hand they might give you some sign that you may want to hire or not hire the contractor.

Lastly, see if the general contractor is registered in the state as a contractor and is a member of a home building or contractor association. If he is a good general contractor he should be active in a home builders association.

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It is through this type of association that he keeps up with the latest home construction regulations and stays abreast of the latest in home construction technology and materials.

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