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1st Impressions of a Residential General Contractor can save you Headaches and Money
It is a great day, the sun is shining and you have 3 residential contractors coming by to give estimated on that new sundeck. The excitement is almost too much to handle because you have been saving for 3 years to get this new addition to your home. Contractor # 1 shows up in a new Chevrolet pickup, is well dressed in slacks and a nice shirt, His truck is clean and organized and he grabs his tape measure and folder and briefcase before approaching your front door. He spends an hour and a half measuring, writing out the proposal and answering questions and then leaves you with a list of references.
Contractor # 2 shows up 10 minuets late, has an older truck that has mud from a jobsite that he left to come to your home for the estimate. He has to dig through the toolbox to find a tape, and has loose paperwork to fill out the proposal for you. He is not direct and confident with answers to your questions and only spends a few minuets measuring your project. Now, here is the exciting part. He is 00.00 cheaper than the last contractor. You finish up with him and he leaves.
Next comes the 3rd contractor. He shows up on time and in a nice truck, it is clean and organized. He gets out in a suit and tie, shinny shoes, a briefcase but no tape measure. You meet and greet and discuss the project and then show him where it will be constructed. He pulls out a chart and does his figures by the chart that he has, he then brings you back inside and gives you a full presentation including all proof of insurance and a whole bunch of statistics. This guy has really impressed (and maybe scared) you and your spouse but he comes in at ,500.00 more than the 1st general contractor and pushes for a decision right now. You resist and decide to think about it even though it is hard to do because he offered financing and this allows you to keep your savings. This makes you want to sign right now. But you continue to resist to make a decision after a cool off period.
The 3 scenario’s we just went through are the 3 basic types of contractors that you will run across in your quest for your new project.
Let’s review, but in reverse order. # 3 is more than likely a salesperson that was hired by a residential general contractor that uses nothing but subcontractors. More than likely this company has no employees. They have advertising, insurance, and a license. They may even have an office. They use finance to lure you into their inflated prices with the claim that they have all of the bells and whistles to make sure the project is handled right. But in fact they will send a subcontractor out and a salesman to supervise or resolve any issues that you may run into on the project when the salesman has no construction background.
Contractor # 2. This guy is an accident waiting to happen. He is unorganized, can not keep his truck or tools in order. It is very likely that he is the crew (other than brother in law) and is in a hurry to finish because he is behind on his own bills and will be pestering or begging for a “draw” before the job is complete. And then if you do bend and give the draw or a large portion of the payment prior to completion he may not show back up to finish the job for a while, if at all. Another consideration is his not paying for the materials and then a lien being placed on your property for the balance because he underbid from either a lack of knowledge of to sell out of desperation A potential for a real nightmare.
Contractor #1. This looks like the best choice. From start to finish he gives the signs that he is organized and competent. He took the time to go over the plans with you. Addressed your concerns fully and had a working knowledge of the project. Took the time to make sure the measurements were right and wrote out a through bid.
If you do not believe that you can become a victim of a construction holocaust then just watch the evening news. There are many top notch contractors out there to get the job completed right and you can find them. Use some common sense and pay attention to details and it is fairly simple to make the right choice, Do not be pressured into a decision on the spot. It may be the worst decision you ever make. If you feel pressured, dismiss the contractor and move to the next one.
The next thing to be careful of is to not get greedy, You have worked hard to get the project you wanted so do not jeopardize it trying to save a few hundred to a few thousand depending on the project. It will likely cost you in the long run. Be careful, take your time and check the references and your project will give you the pleasure you deserve for years to come.
About the Author: C.J.Gannon is a Retired Residential General Contractor and now writes for several construction companies to educate buyers on the construction process so that consumers can make decisions with confidence about their Home Improvement Projects