HOW TO CHOOSE A CONTRACTOR IN THE SOUTH BAY

(Questions to ask every contractor before hiring)

“RELATIONSHIPS ARE LIKE A WALK IN THE PARK………………………. JURASSIC PARK”

This is probably the most important choice you’ll make regarding your home renovation or if you are building a new home.  This relationship will last a while (hopefully not too long) depending on the scope of work. 

Here are the top 6 things to help you choose a contractor that is right for you and your project.

1.       Experience in the area & years in business: we strongly recommend using a contractor that has done previous projects in your area. Each city has its own rules and regulations so knowing them beforehand makes for a smoother process. If they don’t have a built-in team, they pick subs from a “pool” and it’s helpful when they are in the vicinity.

2.       Availability: do they have tons of projects around town? We all know that if we are spread too thin, things fall off the plate. Unfortunately, in these cases, the client that complains the most gets the most attention. Squeaky wheel…… You may get the team C of subs or things get delayed because they can’t give you all the attention you need. Some contractors will have a max number of projects they will take and others, take as many as they can. 

3.       Ease of communication/personality: this seems silly, but it is SUPER important. Are you super techie? Do you want excel charts, pictures, and docs on everything or would you feel better if someone was on-site overseeing work? Most people want a combination of both. We’ve seen it all over the years and we think the best combo is when the contractor’s team has someone in the office in charge of all thing’s office and someone on-site who’s knowledgeable and more manual.

4.       Ask for referrals: try with at least two people. We are not talking about online reviews, although sometimes those are helpful.  We mean, contact a few people. These are good questions to ask the people you contact:

  • How is the contractor about staying on budget?

  • Did they take approximately the time they estimated? Give and take a month.

  • How are they at solving problems?  Issues will arise and often they give way to great opportunities in the project. The good contractors are great at finding creative solutions while minimizing the impact on the budget.

  • My personal favorite: how would you rate this company or person from 1 to 10 without including 7? As you can probably figure out, 6 and 8 tell very different stories so this one question gives you a comprehensive answer

5.       Pricing:  Cheaper is not better. If you get 3 bids and one of them is a lot less than the other two, consider this a red flag.  If you are not comfortable with the way they structure their billing, that’s a different story and you may request some changes.  Some contractors will provide you with a lower bid because they really want the job, or they have a different understanding of the quality of the project.  The project will end up costing you more and you won’t be prepared for it or you are getting you an inferior product. Also, all contractors bill out differently. Here are some scenarios:

  • A percentage of the total cost of the project. Anywhere from 10 to 25%

  • Hourly on GC on-site

  • All of the above.

  • Flat rate to a certain point on the project and then hourly 

6.     Questions to ask your finalists contractors:

  • How do they bill out? Hourly? Mark up?

  • Do they get different bids from subs or do they stick to who they know?

  • Is the contractor/business owner on-site, is there a GC that pops in or is there a person on-site every day?

  • When the project is complete, how much longer afterward are they liable?