Trouble Selecting A Good General Contractor? This Checklist Will Help!

Posted on Jan 28 2014 - 10:34am by Joy Mac


Aah, you have decided to make some serious modifications to your home – you do not like your old kitchen, need extra living room space, want a bigger bathroom, or need extra rooms! To get this work done, however, you will need to hire a professional, a good local general contractor. How will youselect a good general contractor?Well, we all think that selecting a good general contractor is a daunting task, but the fact is that, it is very simple if you know what to look for in them. The things to look for in a reliable contractor are simple, as well; however, despite being simple, they are important, very important! Understanding and following these things, nevertheless, will certainly help you select a good general contractor wherever you are living.

Before we proceed, a word of advice – do not pick anyone randomly from the “Yellow Pages” or any such business directories. All right, let us proceed!

The easiest, and certainly one of the ideal ways to choose a good, potential general contractor, is to get some references from people you know and trust. Of course, this “people” can include– your close friends, family members, your business associates, and so on. You will certainly get some references from these people. Again, please do not search and hire someone, randomly.

Now, when you have some of these references, it is time to meet them face-to-face. When you meet them, look for the rapport, the “chemistry”, between you and them. Also, observe their level of competence.Aside from their basic competency, the most important attributes the professional general contractors should have include decency, respect, punctuality, and an affable ability to communicate.If you do not find these attributes in a contractor, then no matter how well-established they may be, you must not hire them. If they do not respect you, why do you want to hire them!

All right, now here is a simple, yet important checklist of things that you need to consider when selecting a general contractor. Let us use the traditional rating way to classify some of these important things. We will use “Best”, “Good”, “OK”, “Fair”, and “Reject” as the rating.

While Preparing a list of Potential Contractors

  • You already know the contractor, and had a good prior experience with them(Best)
  • Good references from people you know and have worked with those contractors recently (Good)
  • You know a few contractors, but have no direct working experience with them (OK)
  • You formed a list of contractors from a local trade association (Fair)
  • You formed a list of contractors from “Yellow Pages”, “Business Directories”, and/or unreliable resources (Reject)
  • Licensed and has “No Open Complaints” or “No Closed Complaints” against them since the beginning (Best)
  • Licensed and has “No Open Complaints” or “No Closed Complaints” against them in the past 3 or 4 years (Fair)
  • Licensed and has complaints against them in the past 3 or 4 years (Reject)
  • Unlicensed (Reject)
  • If in business for 15 years or more (Best)
  • If in business for 10 to 15 years (Good)
  • If in business for 1 to 10 years (OK)
  • If new company with less than 1 year in business (Fair)
  • General Liability and Workman’s Compensation (Best)
  • Only general liability (Good)
  • No Insurance (Reject)
  • Has a physical business headquarter and sales office [check the addresses] (Best)
  • Has a home office only (OK)
  • No physical business address at all (Reject)
  • Specializes in the type of work you want done (Best)
  • Little or no experience in the type of work you want done (Reject)
  • Good reviews from at least contractor’s past 5 customers (Best)
  • 2 or 3 positive references from the contractor’s past customers (OK)
  • Negative reviews or no real references (Reject)

General Contractor’s License (Ask for the license number)

Business Longevity

Insurance (Ask for the insurance copies)

Business Permanence and Stability


Contractor’s References Check

Aside from these, the following things are also essential to consider:

  • Clear and detailed description of the work scope on papers
  • All the contractor’s verbal commitment in writing
  • Work guarantee in writing
  • Up-front payment of no more than 25% to 30% in writing
  • No final payment until the work is complete in writing

That is it! Consider the above checklist, and you will certainly be able to select a good, local general contractor, working for your project.

About the Author

Joy Mac is contributor writer and guest author. He likes to write articles on different topic related to custom home builder, commercial construction, home remodeling, general contractor and many more.