To view this page ensure that Adobe Flash Player version 11.1.0 or greater is installed.
Compass O a sis
Homeowner complaints that their General Contractor won’t pay attention to them abound. Here’s the 411
on those delay tactics and how to find the right fit when it comes to home improvement projects.
T E X T BY B I LL & SA N DY L I N D S E Y
1. Three Bids: The rule of thumb is to
get a minimum of three bids, but this
may involve contacting 5-7 or more
contractors, especially on a big job. You’ll
see why below.
Change-Order Artist: Expect
to hear “Oh, you really need this” or
“You really need that” throughout
the job as the cost escalates beyond the
6. Initial Response: If you have to
hound the GC to come look at your
job, don’t. On the other hand, if he
says he can’t come out for 2-3 days, but
arrives on time, you’re OK to move on to the
Check & Recheck: Check their
state contractor’s license, talk to
their subcontractors and do an online
search for client complaints — and any sincere
positive testimonials. Always ask for references
before signing on the dotted line.
Bid Delays: If he visits your site
promptly but you have to hound him
for a bid, just imagine how much
you’re going to have to hound him to get work
done. Drop him stat.
Incomplete Response: If a GC
“forgets” to put items into a bid, he’s
either not paying enough attention or is a
dreaded “change-order artist.” Red flags abound.
The Contract: Get it all, and we
mean all, in writing down to the finest
detail such as “new baseboard to match
existing.” Never accept a vague proposal even
on a minor job.
Insurance Proof: Get a copy of the
contractor’s insurance. Is the coverage
adequate? Does he have workers
compensation and general liability coverage?
9. Payment Schedule: The guy
wants 50% up front? Forget it. Large
projects usually start out at 10-20%
at the onset, then similar amounts upon
completion of various stages.
10. Skip The Lowball: This is
another rule of thumb. If the
price is too good to be true, it
probably is. The guy is either cutting corners,
desperate for work, or planning on raising
costs along the way.
11. Subcontractor Savvy:
Subcontractors are the norm on
most large residential projects,
but the more of his own guys he has working
on your job, the more control he’ll have over
the scheduling. Express your concerns from
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
The Lindseys have added rooms to their house twice in the past decade and have much better things
to say about their second GC than the first one, who — yes this really happened — took guys off their site
mid-project to work on his weekend house in The Keys.