If you’re looking to build a new home or do a major remodel on your existing house, you’ll want to make certain you hire the best construction company for the job. Ideally, you want to identify contractors that are reliable, fair, reputable, and put the safety of both your family and its workers as a primary consideration.
While identifying a good contractor may seem daunting or like finding a needle in a haystack, there are some tried and true approaches to hiring a company that will create the project as you envision it within your established budget.
How to tell if a company has a good reputation
Aside from word of mouth from family, friends, and neighbors, one of the best resources to find a reliable construction company with a solid reputation is to go online.
- Check web reviews, including but not limited to, Yelp, Facebook, and Google Reviews.
- Look up each company’s standing on websites, such as Angie’s List and Better Business Bureau.
- Ask your real estate agent or homeowners’ association for any recommendations of companies they’re familiar with or have used themselves.
- Use apps, such as HomeAdvisor (Apple or Android) to locate potential contractors.
- Examine each contractor’s website and get a feel for how they work, sometimes you can pick up positive – or negative – vibes.
- Check to see if any litigation, license, or complaint history exists.
It’s important to do your due diligence before hiring a contractor. Without it, you might hire someone who does shoddy work, overcharges you, or doesn’t perform proper safety procedures which could lead to a construction injury.
What to look for in a reliable construction company
To help you choose a reliable construction company for the work you’re getting done, while the information you’ve gleaned online is valuable, one of the best ways to learn more is to go straight to the source and ask the contractor.
Experts generally recommend you compare a minimum of at least three companies. Be sure to do an interview with each one. Here are some important questions you should ask.
- How many years has your company been in the construction business?
- What kind of licenses do you hold?
- Are you insured and with what type of policy?
- What is the number of homes you’ve built (or remodeled)?
- What permits will you need before you can start work? (A permit will always be necessary with large-scope projects and even many smaller ones) Also, if they ask you to apply for the permits, this is a red flag.
- Who will be in charge of oversight on the work on my home? Is there a specific contact person I’ll have access to call with concerns or questions?
- What parts of the project will you be hiring subcontractors for and what is your process for vetting who you use?
- How long do you expect the work on my house to take?
- Can you provide any references from your previous clients?
Any reputable contractor will be more than willing to give you the information you ask, including showing you their portfolio. If a contractor skirts around questions or refuses to answer any of them, consider that to be a big warning sign you might not be looking at a reliable company.
If so, quickly move onto another company. However, if they pass the test, ask them to place a bid, then speak to at least two additional competitors. Ask them the same questions and give yourself a strong comparison point.
Keep in mind your build timeline, because you might need to interview more than three companies if some of your meetings don’t go well because this means the project will take longer.
Hiring safe construction companies
While you look forward to the completion of your home construction project, during the work, it’s not always the easiest time frame to live with because your daily lifestyle will have to revolve around different stages of construction.
Aside from the big messes, you’ll want to ensure the safety of anyone who is on your property. Before you sign a contract, you want to be sure you hire a company that puts a priority on the homeowner, guest, and worker safety.
- Check their safety record – are there any violations?
- Request to see their licenses and proof(s) of insurance.
- Ask the company representative about their safety beliefs and practices.
- Inquire what safety precautions are put into place before and during the construction process.
- Contact any references you’ve been provided with.
Once you’ve interviewed and vetted out contractors, compare estimates to see which one falls within your anticipated price range. The bids you get should be pretty competitive.
If any are far off, either low or high, you might want to talk to another couple of companies to get a better gauge so you’re not hiring someone who is more affordable but has cheap labor practices (which can be unsafe and lead to injury) or will rip you off by charging too much.
Before any work is started, double-check the contract to make sure it has the entire scope of the project covered, including actual work, deadlines, materials, and payments. Be sure everything is documented. If something is missing, don’t be shy in insisting it’s added in before you sign.
Keep in mind, there should be a little wiggle room in the event of unanticipated events occurring once work starts (contractors can’t see everything during an estimate), it’s not uncommon for another 10% in costs to be added to the project.
Remember, only make the final payment once the job is 100% finished – you don’t want to risk a company neglecting to make the final touches.
Most homeowners find the construction part of the process tough to deal with, but for many, the hardest part is finding a reliable, trustworthy, and reputable company.
By carefully doing your homework, you’ll find the right company for your job. Before you know it, you’ll be able to sit back and enjoy your new living space.