FAQ: What is a General Contractor and How do I Find One?

HOW TO FIND THE BEST GENERAL CONTRACTOR NEAR YOU

by Joseph Renteria

If you’re thinking about having your home or business remodeled and want to know how to find the best general contractor near you, then read on. But first, let’s start with finding out what a general contractor really is and what they do.

WHAT IS A GENERAL CONTRACTOR?

As referenced by Wikipedia, a general contractor (main contractor, prime contractor) is responsible for the day-to-day oversight of a construction site, management of vendors and trades, and communication of information to involved parties throughout the course of a building project. By definition, a general contractor is a person who contracts for and assumes responsibility for completing a construction project and hires, supervises, and pays all subcontractors. A general contractor is not a handyman but rather is a skilled professional who is keen to all the governing laws, permits, and safety hazards your project may encounter and must be licensed to perform such tasks by the Contractors State License Board. Nor, are they architects or interior designers. A general contractor is usually needed after the plans of the remodel have already been drafted and you are ready to begin construction. With that being said, it's essential that you do your homework before deciding on the right general contractor for your project. To do this, we have put together some pointers on how to find the right person or company for your home or business remodel project.

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SEARCH FOR A GENERAL CONTRACTOR ON THE WEB

To search for a general contractor using the web, begin by logging onto your favorite search engine and entering keywords, terms, or phrases, specific to your project, into the search bar to locate General Contractors in your immediate area. Popular search engines include Google, Bing, and Yahoo.

But don’t settle for the first name to pop up. Just because a company is first on the search engine result page, it doesn’t mean they should be the first person you call. Be selective and go through the list of websites generated by the search engine and look at past projects by clicking on each of the links on their site.

You should know, if you search the term “general contractor”, a list of websites using the term general contractor will be populated along with advertisers who are paying for such a keyword. However, because the term is too broad, you may only see a list of websites with references to “general contractor” and not actual companies who offer general contractor services. Also, if you are searching through a map, a list of general contractors in the area are populated according to the location of the IP address of your computer. So if you’re at work in the city of Costa Mesa and you live in the city of Anaheim, you will most likely see a list of general contractors near Costa Mesa. This doesn’t meant that the general contractor won’t service your area, but you will definitely want to ask if they service the area of which your home resides in. Also, it is ok to click on ads. Don’t worry, you’re not being charged for clicking on them. Rather, the company whose ad appears is paying for you to click on their ads.

For best results, using the example above, we suggest being as specific as possible. So if you are looking to have your kitchen remodeled and live in Anaheim, CA, enter the phrase “general contractors who specialize in kitchen remodeling in Anaheim, CA”.

ASK A FRIEND OR READ REVIEWS

The best method is to ask a friend who has used a general contractor in the past. You can never go wrong with a referral from a friend where you can actually see the work that has already been done. But if you don’t have one around, the next best thing is to scout reviews on the internet. We suggest using websites such as Yelp, Angie’s List, or Houzz to get the best reviews and too see real photos from the customers themselves. Use your best judgment to determine which reviews are true. Also, take the time to read all the reviews, which includes reading the filtered reviews as well. Sometimes websites restrict certain content based on their own policies and filter them making them hard to find. To be fair, sometimes these are true but it’s up to you whether you believe it or not.

BEFORE YOU HIRE A GENERAL CONTRACTOR

Before you make the call or schedule an appointment with a general contractor, check the status of their license by doing a quick search on your state’s license board website. Usually a general contractor will provide their license on their website or print it on their business card. If you cannot find their license number on their website or card, you can search the state’s site using a business name, business address or phone number. If this alternate method is not available, call the company and ask for it first, do a search and then call them back to schedule an appointment. To check the validity of a license in the state of California, log on to www.cslb.ca.gov and perform an instant license check. Builder Boy’s license number is 986389.

Once you have found a few general contractors you deem appropriate, the next step is to call and schedule appointments. We suggest you call a minimum of two companies for an estimate but no more than three. If you call too many companies, you’re more likely to become confused and will often times find yourself paying attention only to those who are the least expensive. And, remember you really do get what you pay for. Plus, too many appointments take up more of your time and can become inconvenient.

WHILE YOU'RE ON THE PHONE

Here are some questions you may want to ask prospective general contractors:

How long have you been in the business?
How many projects like mine have you completed?
Who will be working on the project?
What qualities do you look for in your subcontractors?
Can you provide me with references?
Are you licensed and insured?
How do you charge, and what does that include?
What happens when costs exceed budget, whether due to materials or labor pricing changes? What about changes made by the client or by the professionals — what kinds of situations would cause those costs to be incurred?
Can you give me a written estimate?
What do your services include?
When can your job get done?
What will I need to provide?
Are there any important considerations or concerns you foresee with this project?

DURING YOUR ESTIMATE

Once you have invited the general contractor to visit your job site to do an estimate, you should provide as many details as possible about the job and ask as many questions as possible. Treat the estimate like an interview and don’t rush through it. If you have photos of ideas you may have, make sure to have copies ready that they can take with them. After your meeting, allow for a few days for them to submit a bid to you based off their initial inspection. Inspect bids carefully and ask yourself, was it ready when the contractor promised it? Was the bid unusually high or low? Each of these things can be very telling: A late bid may reflect timing standards, and an off-the-mark bid could be code for a pricey premium or a deliberate underbid to score the remodeling job. If you are comfortable with the bid, the next step is to sign a contract. As always, read the contract very carefully to be sure everyone is on the same page and the dates match your time frame for when you want the job to be completed.

WHY CHOOSE BUILDER BOY AS YOUR GENERAL CONTRACTOR

Now that you know what a general contractor actually does and how to find one, let us be your first choice. At Builder Boy, we are committed to offering viable building and remodeling solutions to homeowners and business owners alike, bringing beauty, form, and function back into every home, office, and building we rebuild, retouch, and restore. Our team of experts are dedicated to their craft and will work relentlessly to turn your dream or vision into a reality. Diligent planning, expert opinions, clear-cut organization, honest communication, quality materials and quality craftsmanship are keys to our business success and assure the swift and solid construction of any project. With every improvement project we accept, we aim to work with our clients to build a better home or business that will not only add beauty to the community but will boost the value of the property and quality of life.

If you are a homeowner, business owner, architect, interior designer, or design firm, please feel free to contact the professionals at Builder Boy. We can be reached by phone at 562.218.3295 or by email at info@builderboy.com. We also invite you to visit our office and showroom in the beautiful city of Long Beach. We are conveniently located at the corner of Pacific Coast Highway and Cherry Ave.

ABOUT BUILDER BOY, INC.

Builder Boy has been servicing home and business owners in the greater Los Angeles and Orange County area for over 20 years. We are regarded as the leader in the remodeling business and are recognized as the best construction company and general contractor in Southern California. We offer interior/exterior painting services, stucco, kitchen and bath remodel, custom cabinets, cabinet refinishing, cabinet refacing, interlock paving systems, stone walkways, concrete driveways, custom barbecue islands, custom fire pits, room additions, and storage solutions.