What to Know About: General Contractors

YP Editors

How can I find a good general contractors
  • Ask friends and family members for a recommendation.
  • Ask neighbors about who they've hired if you notice work being done on their house. any remodeling contractors post signs in front of homes to advertise their services.
  • Ask the contractor for references from past clients
  • Do as background research on them. Look for any complaints (or compliments) online to get a better idea of their track record.
  • It's rarely a good idea to hire a contractor who solicits work by going door to door.
How do I protect myself from payment disputes with general contractors?

If there is ever a dispute regarding payment over the course of the project, a contractor or subcontractor could place a payment claim, or lien, on your property. To avoid this, ask the contractor to sign a lien release, which is a legal agreement that states that any payment accepted is final. This can come in handy if a contractor has his or her own payment issues with their subcontractors. Signing a lien release form certifies that any payment made by a client to the contractor is enough to pay for any goods or services rendered.

Do contractors need insurance?

Yes. This should include liability coverage for any property damage that could be inflicted in the course of a job. It should also include a worker's compensation policy in case anyone is injured on the job. Before hiring a contractor for anything, ask for written proof of this insurance to see exactly what is covered.

What should be in the contract with a contractor?

Before any money changes hands, there should be a contract to sign. Make sure the specifics of the work and all costs are listed in the contract, including details. If you forget to have something included in the contract after signing it, there's rarely a chance of recourse.

How should I budget for a contractor?

It's normal for most contractors to charge clients a premium not only for the labor expenses and zoning expertise, but for acquiring the materials, as well. Be as clear regarding what you'll be purchasing yourself and what you will be paying the contractor to complete. Homeowners may be able to find a better deal on raw materials when they purchase these directly, but they first need to be sure they aren't buying the wrong things.

What does a general contractor do?

General contractors could be thought of as middlemen between a homeowner or business owner and any number of specialists.  They might also serve as the manager on the site of a construction project, overseeing workers and providing guidance and assistance. For larger projects, though, the contractor might only handle administrative matters and employ a foreman or other professional for on-site supervision.