How to Find Responsible General Contractors or Sub-Contractors

The business of rehabbing homes generally involves hiring a general contractor to manage the project or lining up several sub-contractors yourself as an owner/builder.  If you are not a general contractor and don’t had any experience rehabbing or building homes, I suggest you hire a general contractor to organize and manage the construction of your project.  If you have some experience or feel you are a pretty good manager of people and resources, then hiring sub-contractors individually can save you a general contractor’s fee.

For those in the first category, you will want to find a general contractor with a good reputation for quality work, dependability and being reasonably priced.  You will want to get referrals from people you trust who have used these general contractors and have had a great experience with them.  If you don’t know people who have built in the past, then drive around and find homes that are being built or remodeled in the neighborhood and call the owners to inquired about their experience with their general contractor.  After finding 3 to 4 highly recommended general contractors, have them individually bid your project and consider the one that gives you the best price.  Be sure to compare the allowance items that each includes in their bid for items such as plumbing fixtures, appliances, tiles, countertops, light fixture, etc and make sure they are using the same amount.  The best way to approach the bidding process is to give each contractor a list of specifications with a unit amount for each category in which you have not yet made an exact decision. 

Be sure to get a fixed price from your contractor so you know upfront that they will do the work within the budget you have allotted.  Then go over the specifications up front and pin down exactly what will be included in the bid and make sure everything you want done is included so you don’t have additional charges after you start.  Then see to it that your contractor does everything they promised.  Keep track of their progress and keep the line of communication open so that the job moves along smoothly and on time. 

If you are going to sub out all the work, then follow the same procedure with your sub- contractors. Get referrals from other people you trust who have used tile men, granite counter top companies, electricians, plumbers, etc, and are satisfied with the results.  Then get bids from at least 3 sub-contractors in each field and consider the one that gives you the best price.  Be sure they are all recommended and that the feedback from those who have used them is that they do high quality work, they are dependable and they finish on time.  After signing a contract with the sub-contractor, be sure to stay in touch with them and keep encouraging them to follow through with the agreements they have made.  Remember, the squeaky wheel gets the grease.  If you use quality sub-contractors, you should get the job done properly, as well as to code, without needing to know how to do the work yourself.  If you have time, watch the sub-contractors and learn from them so you can supervise other sub-contractors in the future.  Use your managerial skills to organize each sub-contractor to get their job finished on time so the next sub-contractor can begin their work and finish on time.  If you are supplying the material, be sure to have them on the job site on time so there are no delays.  Better yet, have the sub-contractor bid material and labor so they are responsible for supplying the materials and you don’t have to worry about it. 

In all of this, be sure you stay within your budget.  Getting several bids on each item that needs to be rehabbed will insure you get the job done for the best price.  You will be amazed at how far apart the sub-contractors bids can be.  When a sub-contractor is very busy and doesn’t need work, his or her price can escalate rapidly.  When a sub-contractor is out of work and needs to keep his men working, his price can become very reasonable.  If all of the bids you receive are over your budget, negotiate with each sub-contractor and see if one of them will come down to your budget price.  Many times they will if they want the work.  Remember, if you run over your budget, every dollar comes out of your profit, so stay on budget.