Welcome back to “Remodeling and Construction Tips- Getting Started” Here’s Tip 3 which I consider one of the most important steps to take before your job begins. It has to do with the task of checking references.
So you’ve interviewed three general contractors and you’ve narrowed down your decision to two. Both have submitted bids within your budget and both come across as professional and sincere. Now the next step is to speak with other homeowners who have done business with these GC’s and see what they are saying about them. Asking for three references or a list of references is the first step in this process. Now you know, of course, that no GC is going to give you the contact information of an unhappy client. Over the course of doing business, all GC’s have accumulated a group of clients that were satisfied with the results of their projects and will happily recommend them to others. And this is definitely a group you want to talk to. But I think that just checking the referrals that are given to you by the GC’s falls a little short of the whole picture. So I would take it a step further.
Ask the prospective GC if they can give you an address of a job they are currently working on. Assure them that you do not intend to go up and knock on the doors – you would just like to drive by. And you should do so – three or four times over the course of a few days. This will give you some important information that you need to make the right decision.
What are you looking for? Is there at least one service vehicle parked in front of the job on the majority of visits that you make? This tells you that the GC does a good job of keeping the job going. Sometimes they have to pull off of a job (for example, if they are waiting on inspections), but in general, there should be at least one of the trades there working at all times.
How does the job look from the front? Is it a relatively neat jobsite? Depending on the type of work being done, there can be some debris in the front yard but there shouldn’t be traces of neglect, such as coffee cups and food wrappers all over the ground.
Overall, take a good look around and decide for yourself whether what you see is consistent with what you expected to see and what you can tolerate on your own job.
One more thing – when you are speaking with the homeowners on the reference list, treat it just like you would when you are interviewing the GC’s for the first time. Make your questions out ahead of time so that each interview you have will yield consistent information. I would suggest asking, “Is there any part of the job that you weren’t happy with?” This is a fair question and you may come away with some interesting information about your GC and the way his/her company works.
Give Acadia Custom Builders a call for your next project. We have many beautiful completed projects in and around the Houston area we’ll be happy to show you. I’ll be back again soon with Tip 4. Happy remodeling!