I’ve seen many people go through the process of selecting a general contractor (GC).
I’m sure that you will have to go through that process one day as well.
Or maybe you are right now.
It’s an exciting time – to finally be going forward with that remodel, or even building your next home.
But it’s also weighing on your mind, and you’re losing sleep over the decision and your upcoming project.
Will the project go smoothly from start to finish?
Will the GC build the house you’re envisioning?
Will the general contractor you select be the right GC for the job?
And what if it’s not?
Because you’re putting you and your family’s dream home in their hands.
And not to scare you, but I have seen the horrors of selecting the wrong GC first-hand.
And I’ve heard many more around the campfire.
In almost every situation, I’ve been able to pinpoint where things went wrong. And typically, the end result could have been avoided with a little more attention paid to the right things.
And a little less attention paid to the wrong thing…which will surprise you.
Because it may just be the number one thing on which you want to base your decision on
And don’t get me wrong, it is crucial – but DO NOT just decide based on this one factor. It could be a huge mistake.
But before we get to that, I want to talk about two of the most important, yet overlooked, factors to look for when selecting a general contractor.
The Two Most Overlooked Things to Look For in a General Contractor
I feel like everyone has written a post on all the most important traits in selecting a general contractor. In fact, I think I even did once.
So in this post, I want to touch on what I’ve discovered are the two most important qualities when selecting a general contractor.
And they may not be exactly what you think.
Hello…is Anyone There?
Have you ever been frustrated while working on a project at work or home, and someone you need to talk to isn’t answering their phone?
So you write an email, text, send a note via snail mail. And still nothing.
It’s like you’re standing on stage, yelling into a microphone, but nobody can hear you.
It can make your blood boil.
Now picture trying to get in touch with your GC or the team working on your house about something important, and you don’t hear back from them for days. Maybe even weeks.
I don’t want to scare you, but I’ve seen it happen.
There are rules. You can’t always talk to the “man in charge,” but there should always be someone you can call. And they should get back to you in a timely manner.
Every single place that my career has taken me has proven to me one thing.
The importance of communication.
Almost every breakdown, issue, or problem I’ve seen, in any area of life, has resulted from lack of communication.
That is to say, every situation, no matter how bad, could have been resolved by excellent communication or could have been avoided altogether.
How some people can own and run a business with poor communication is beyond me – but they are out there.
And sometimes they hide it pretty well in the early going. So you may have to put your detective skills to work. Read reviews, talk to referrals, and address it early and often in meetings with any potential general contractors. Ask how they plan to communicate progress and issues, and how you can get in touch with them if you have to.
Do They Have This Great Trait?
Integrity means strong moral principles. Being honest. Being true to yourself to such an extent that you would do nothing to dishonor this – whether someone is watching or not.
To me, it means being honest and doing the right things in all circumstances.
The world is filled with businessmen (and businesswomen) who will do anything to make a buck. Many will cut corners when nobody is looking or use a cheaper product if they can get away with it.
But this also comes down to being honest and fair about your price up-front, and not unexpectedly gouging you at the end of the project.
Sure, some circumstances will escalate the price of a project, but that should be transparent upfront, and communicated before it happens.
Which brings me to the most significant blunder future homeowners make.
Don’t Hire a General Contractor Based Solely off of This
The biggest mistake I see people make is only looking at the bottom line.
I get it; you want your house for the best price you can get.
And you have a budget to stick to, so the cost should definitely be a major factor.
But deciding based solely on the price can be a huge mistake.
I’ve seen people sign on the dotted line of a contract that was cheaper…that was six lines long.
A contract that had so little detail it’s scary. It may be cheaper, but at what cost?
I can tell you – the cheapest materials they can get and the cheapest subcontractors they can hire. A final product that may not show the cheapness on day one, but you will know all too soon.
And then you have the hidden costs that many contractors like to hand out like candy on Halloween.
Remember those horror stories I mentioned?
You break ground on your project, and everyone is happy.
The project starts without a hitch, but in a few months, the first unexpected change order comes through. Then another. Then another.
Before long, things aren’t so happy anymore.
And ¾ through the project, you are way over budget, and you decide to fight back. How did this even happen?
So you say you aren’t going to, or can’t, pay.
And they leave. They walk off the job site and go work on another house.
I will be blunt and honest, the plan of some general contractors is just to get a client to sign by showing them the lowest prices. They know that they will make up for it with change orders.
And then they change order themselves into profit and the client (you) into debt.
And the house sits half-finished for years.
It’s truly a tragedy, and I never want to see that happen to anyone: friends, family, acquaintances, or you.
So yes, take the budget into account. But know what you’re getting and know who you’re working with before jumping into the best deal.
Do Your Research and Watch as it all Comes Together
Any project on your house is an exciting time for you, but it can also be scary and stressful.
You have a lot of decisions to make, including the massive choice of selecting the right general contractor.
And everything can hitch on that decision.
If you put on your detective hat and do some junior sleuthing, you’ll figure out if the GC you’re considering is the right one for your new home or renovation.
Select a general contractor who has integrity and is a great communicator, and your project will go off without a hitch.
And at the end of the day, it just may end up costing you less too.
H-1 Construction has been consistently recognized as one of Hawaii’s best home builders, and we are here to help, whether it is working on your new home, renovation, or just making the right decisions.