How do I find a residential general contractor local to me?
Web searching is a learned skill. The first step to finding a residential general contractor local to you is to perform a search on the Web, preferably using Google. The reason you’ll want to use Google is that it is the most common and usually has the most complete results.
Nextdoor is also a great tool to consider using. Nextdoor is a networking service app for neighborhoods, where local general contractors may have posts with their contact information. These individuals may have competitive rates for your area and be available to get started on your project quickly. Residential general contractors typically get their business through word of mouth, and these types of neighborhood apps and sites allow neighbors to connect and provide feedback on companies they have worked with. Look for patterns in these reviews. You may also come across websites where you can book a contractor directly, like Thumbtack. However, you may prefer to do that through the contractor’s website itself. Also, remember to seek out friends and family who have previously had home projects done. This is a great opportunity to get honest and straightforward reviews from people you know and trust.
Once you’ve compiled a list of nearby residential general contractors in Tukwila (and Multi-M Contracting may be one of them), take a look at their websites. You’ll typically find descriptions of the type of construction they do and portfolios highlighting past projects. If there is something you have questions about, reach out to connect with the company directly! One way to evaluate a company is by the responsiveness, knowledge, and attitude of the support staff. Make sure you get in touch with not only the staff but the contractor directly. Have a preliminary conversation. Give a good interview and ask questions. It’s also a good idea to check references and compare quotes. Contractors get payment at particular milestones during the project, so if a company says they expect payment up front you should consider removing them from your list. Also be sure to ask if they have a general contractor license, registration paperwork, certification, and insurance. When you’ve narrowed down your list, invite each contractor into your home to look at the property and give an estimate.
The Labor & Industries website for Washington State also has some handy guidelines to follow before hiring a contractor:
What does “general” mean in a residential general contractor?
A contractor is a construction manager that oversees the construction project. A general contractor is an individual or company that is not specialized.
What does a residential general contractor do?
A residential general contractor oversees the daily activities of a construction project for a private home. They are hired to manage the project from start to finish and their overall responsibilities vary from project to project. They provide all materials needed for the project; supply all labor; furnish their equipment, vehicle, and tools; hire subcontractors to take on specialized parts of the project; oversee the quality and timeliness of the work; oversee payment, schedules, and cash flow; keep accurate records; and ensure safety measures are being followed. This person is vital to the completion of the project.
Services a residential general contractor offers to include new home construction, as well as new home additions; home restoration, remodeling, and renovation; plumbing, electrical, and HVAC; decks, patios, and porches; flooring and painting; concrete; and window and door installation and replacement. While doing your research consider which contractors do new construction, interior remodels, or both.
There are also different types of general contractors. A full-service contractor has a designer or architect, estimator, project manager, and site supervisor. Some homeowners prefer these so they can take a more hands-off approach.
Some examples of projects you can get a residential general contractor to do include:
In Washington State, a general contractor is a person who oversees the project from beginning to end. They serve as the primary contact point for the property owner. They are frequently referred to as the “prime contractor” who works on a project. Washington general contractors can advertise, bid on, and perform the construction, demolition, repair, and remodeling of any property. Further, they must submit a signed Model Disclosure Statement, something also called a Washington Notice to Owner, before starting work. If you live in a different city than Tukwila, look for the state rules that apply to that city.
Here are some terms that a residential general contractor may use along the way:
In short, the work of a residential general contractor goes well beyond managing hands-on tasks, as they take responsibility for the entire worksite, which in this case is your home. They make sure that all work is done in a way that doesn’t violate any product warranties or guarantees, as manufacturers require that siding, roofing, windows, and major appliances are installed in a certain way.
Keep reading for a list of specific questions you can ask to ensure your contractor is the most trustworthy one for the job. All in all, the contractor and company you choose need to be people you trust, not only to get the work done but to communicate with you during the process and keep their word to you every step of the way.
Why should you choose a residential general contractor over a handyman?
A residential general contractor, like those you’ll find at Multi-M Contracting, has licensure and trade-specific knowledge that a handyman lacks. In most states, there is no handyman licensing or certification requirement. The difference in licensure requirements means there is a difference between the types of jobs that a residential general contractor and handyman can take on. The larger a job, the more likely it is that it will require some form of specialist: for example, an electrician, flooring installer, landscaper, or tiling expert. A handyman unclogs pipes; a residential general contractor installs a new bathroom. One patches holes in the walls; the other builds a new room. One repairs a deck; the other builds it. One installs a washing machine; the other will rewire the house to make a new laundry room.
In Washington, a handyman is a specialty contractor who does minor work on existing properties, with a total value of less than $2,000. All work must be completed personally, without employees or other specialty contractors. A handyman must still purchase a $6,000 bond and show proof of general liability insurance.
As a rule of thumb, you’ll want to hire a general contractor over a handyman if a project takes more than a week.
In general, the benefits of hiring a general contractor are:
What are some questions to ask a general contractor before getting started?
A sign of a good contractor is one that is open, honest, and willing to answer any questions the customer has. Remember, the customer is always right. If you are working with someone that seems to be withholding information from you or is dishonest, you may want to consider looking for other options.
Question 1: How long have you been working in the industry?
You’ll want to know how long the contractor has been working. All contractors have to start somewhere, but the more experienced, the better. Some contractors have decades of experience and have seen the industry evolve over the years.
Question 2: Are you licensed?
You’ll want to be sure the contractor has the required licenses to operate. While any licensed contractor won’t necessarily be perfect for your project, at least you will know that they are operating legitimately. License requirements are detailed in the last section.
Question 3: Are you insured?
This is vitally important as well. You don’t want to be on the hook for mistakes your contractor makes or injuries to the workers.
Question 4: Can you provide a list of references?
Obtain a list of references. Call the references and have a chat with them. If what they say doesn’t support what the contractor says about themselves, you may need to re-evaluate this contractor. You can also get an idea of the contractor’s reputation by searching online and finding reviews and testimonials. Look for patterns of either positive or negative reviews.
Question 5: Can I see your portfolio?
If you haven’t seen this on their website already, you’ll want to get an idea of projects they have done in the past. Even if you have already looked at their website, they may have additional projects that they didn’t list that they could show or at least tell you about.
Question 6: Will you obtain the permits and set up the inspections that are required for this job?
Not every job requires a permit or inspection, but if it changes the structure of your home, it likely does. They should not only know what permits are required but be willing to pull them for you.
Question 7: What’s the projected timeline for this project?
You want to be sure the project fits into your desired or needed schedule.
Question 8: How often do you finish projects on time?
This is related to the question above. Does the contractor have a good reputation for completing projects on time? An honest contractor will bring up the times there have been complications that interfered with the timeline.
Question 9: How often will you stop by to check on the progress?
Ideally, you want a contractor who will stop by daily to see how things are going with the project and to communicate with the workers.
Question 10: Will I have a dedicated team working on my job?
Because contracting companies are often working on multiple projects at a time, you’re going to want consistency in who comes to work on your home.
Question 11: Will you update me daily on the project?
Related to question number 9 above, you will want a contractor who is communicative and can answer any questions you may have as well.
Question 12: Will you write a contract detailing what you will do, the anticipated time frame, a list of materials needed, and the cost?
Get everything in writing so there is a clear and signed record of what will be done. As far as costs specifically, keep in mind that remodeling costs can vary widely based on location and the contractor you choose. They also vary based on the age of the property; what existing systems are in place in the house (like water, electricity, sewage, heating, etc); the existence of asbestos or lead paint in the house; framing style of the house; designs that should be brought up to code; matching hard-to-find custom molding and finishes; lot or land-use restrictions; and engineering modifications. Most reputable contractors will not price per square foot, but rather give a detailed project estimate that is specific to the home. You can have a general estimate, but no contractor can give you a final price without looking at your home.
Question 13: What is the daily work schedule?
It’s common sense, but the more hours worked per day, the sooner the project will be completed. Since the contractor and workers will be a major focus of your life for weeks or months, you’ll want to be able to plan your life around their work.
Question 14: How should I prepare my home for your work?
It’s important to know if you’ll be asked to remove items that are in or close to the work areas. Conversely, the team should not leave debris around your home when they leave each day.
Question 15: What is the payment schedule?
You don’t want to be surprised by expenses. A good contractor will bill you at different intervals when certain milestones in the project are reached, not all at once. General contractors charge about 10 to 20% of the total project cost. You can generally expect a range in price of $250 and $58,000, which takes into account project permits, general liability, overhead, taxes, profit, location, labor and workers’ compensation, and equipment rental.
There may be more questions you can think of. Remember, it never hurts to ask them any questions you may have. A customer needs to be armed with information. And after asking questions, if something still seems a little off about the contractor, then you probably want to trust your gut and re-evaluate them.
What are some signs of a bad contractor?
Conversely, just as there are many signs of a good contractor, there are also ways to know if the contractor you’re getting is not good. As you’re evaluating the people on your list, ask yourself the following:
Do they have bad reviews? You’ll want to make sure they are rated well on Google, Yelp, or wherever else you look. While one bad review may just be a fluke, a pattern of bad reviews indicates something is lacking about the contractor’s work or behavior and customers are noticing it.
Do they overcommit to work? They may be biting off more than they chew. It’s more expensive to redo a bad job than to get it done right the first time. A good contractor knows this.
Do they lack the necessary experience? While everyone has to start somewhere in their careers, generally, more years of experience equals better service and better work. They will also have more projects under their toolbelt that they can show you.
Do they start work, then disappear before starting again? This type of contractor does work for you, but only a little at a time. For obvious reasons, this means your project will take a lot longer than it needs to. You probably don’t have the time for that unpredictability.
Are their rates significantly lower than other contractors? It’s good to save money, and you’ll want to be sure you’re not overpaying as well. However, if your contractor’s rates are too low, they may be skipping out on important expenses, like insurance and workers’ comp. If that’s the case, then the liability falls to you. You don’t want that.
Do they not get the right permits for the job? Your contractor must be operating within the letter of the law. Plus, they’re usually straightforward to get, so there’s no excuse.
Do they not like written agreements? This follows from the above about legality. It’s essential to get everything in writing, even the small and insignificant details, even if your project is a small one. Attention to detail now translates to care for the seemingly minor parts of your project later. Probably, every part of your project is significant to you
Are they unable to provide current references and project samples? You probably don’t want to hire a contractor who doesn’t have proof of successful past projects.
Do they make too many promises? You don’t want someone who overpromises and underdelivers. Of course, you want the opposite: your expectations are exceeded in every aspect of the job.
Do they have poor interpersonal skills? While you don’t need your contractor to be a social butterfly, they should be able to talk back and forth with you about your project. They should also give the impression that you are free to ask them any questions you may have. They shouldn’t give perfunctory or one-word answers, but rather, have a conversation with you. They should go by the axiom, “The customer is always right.”
Are they often late to meetings? In contracting work, timeliness is more than a virtue, it is essential. You likely have a deadline that matters for the work. Being consistently late to meetings shows a lack of care.
Does their project price keep increasing? You want a contractor who is good at estimating prices so you know what you’ll be paying the first time around.
Do they make excuses? You want a contractor with integrity, one who keeps to their word. A big part of the word contractor is contract, an agreement. That’s not to say that there won’t be mistakes, but an honest contractor will always own up to them and figure out how to make the situation right with you.
Do they avoid answering your questions? If a contractor seems hesitant or unwilling to answer your questions, you probably shouldn’t risk your money and time on them. As they are in charge of the project from start to finish, you can also assume they have plenty of knowledge. There’s no excuse for them to not answer your questions or, if they don’t know some things offhand, return to them once they’ve done more research.
Are they reluctant to provide a copy of their license? You don’t want to work with a contractor that isn’t licensed. It’s easy for them to provide this.
Are they difficult to get in touch with? While everybody needs some downtime, you want a contractor who can be easily reached when you have questions or just want to know the current status of the project.
Do they not commit to a project? You care that your contractor cares about your project. They may have multiple projects they’re working on but should be able to care about each one individually. You don’t want a contractor that treats you like a number rather than a unique customer.
Do they show a lack of enthusiasm for the project? Related to commitment, you want someone excited to build for you.
Do they always miss deadlines? There’s a reason there are deadlines in the first place. While it’s understandable timelines may change if your project does, if your project stays the same, there is an expectation that the milestones will too, or that there will be good communication in case an unforeseen difficulty arises.
Do they only want to communicate via phone? While you probably will want to be able to talk to them on the phone, there’s nothing like an in-person meeting. They should be able and willing to talk to you in person.
Remember, when you hire a residential general contractor, you’re the boss. You’re essentially vouching for them to do a great job on your project. So be picky.
What licenses must a general contractor have in Tukwila?
Generally, contractors in the United States must be licensed. This is no different for a general contractor in Tukwila, Washington (or the rest of the state, for that matter). The state of Washington requires all construction contractors to register with Labor & Industries. General contractors can do most kinds of construction work and can hire subcontractors in various specialties. A useful tool on the Washington Labor & Industries website is the Verify a Contractor, Tradesperson, or Business tool. If you look up a person or company and they are not listed, ask them about that.
Remember, there are many things to keep in mind when hiring a general contractor, like Multi-M Contracting, in Tukwila, or wherever you reside. But above all, you want to be sure you get a contractor who is qualified to do the job.