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Patti

Advice on choosing a contractor?

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I am doing some home rehab projects thru the city of Bloomington and they are requiring that I get 2 bids for each project. Any suggestions on how to pick a contractor? what to watch out for in bids?

Thanks,

Patti

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don't look at the final number,

look at what they are proposing.

example on electrician-- # number of openings

example on builder-- Insulation method, matierial brands and grading

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Find yourself a good carpenter who does all his own general contracting. This should save you a nice chunk of change.

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thanks guys...I'm doing siding/soffits/fascia, asphalt driveway, concrete front and back walks and miscellaneous electrical. Somebody had mentioned I didn't want a general contractor - just a middle man that jacks up the cost?

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Get references, check references. Get insurance, workers comp, ect. Lot's of guys out there right now needing work, watch out for the ones that pressure and seem like they want it a little too much.

As far as bids, look for ones that detail everything, no open ends. Depending on the work there will be some allowances for unforseen circumstances, but make sure you know what their rates are for such things, (hourly). Otherwise scope of work and specs will detail what is expected from both parties.

Also down payment might depend on type and lenght of job, material needed and such. 25-15% down is not uncommon, anything over that is unreasonable. Small jobs shouldn't need anything down.

You may or may not be better of with a general or just subbing the work out yourself. With a general, it's their responsibilty to coordinate w/ every one, obtain insurance, ect. And alot of generals have thier specific subs they use with pricing accordingly, and sometimes hiring your own subs doesn't really save you anything and creates more work in coordination. But get some bids from both sides and see what works for you.

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thanks guys...I'm doing siding/soffits/fascia, asphalt driveway, concrete front and back walks and miscellaneous electrical. Somebody had mentioned I didn't want a general contractor - just a middle man that jacks up the cost?

I am a commercial general contractor, so please take this with a grain of salt.

General Contractors do more then most people think. They do not simply mark up bids with overhead and profit. They are responisble for permits, insurance, Lien Waivers (HUGE), coordination, schedules, quality, insurance, contracts, as well as providing the owner with protection from any unknowns. Examples: electrician needs to open wall for wires, GC fixes wall (2 additional trades), Concrete guy removes sidewalks and tears up landscaping. these are the things a good GC should be able to recognize and handle before they become issues. A GC should bring a project in under or at costs and on schedule with the exception of unknown conditions.

This is what we do for a living, and the guys who do it poorly have not been working for a while. I would not fix my own truck, cut my own hair, or install new hardware in my computer, but when it comes to construction, everyone and their brother can do it........

You are looking at 4-8 different crews (for the most part), so you could GC it yourself if you have the time and knowledge to do it. It will be much more time then you think, and lots of phone time and on site meetings.

There are some carpenter crews who are general contractors who do well, and there are some who I would not let build me an outhouse, so buyer beware.

When going through bids, look at their exclusions, they are on every quality contractors quotes. Verify why they do not have these thing included. It may be very simple, and they are standard exclusions, or it could be trying to get the job with a low cost and throw extras at you. As mentioned verify quantities of openings, thickness of asphalt, base materials installed before installation, quality of material, length of time to completion, and look at the overall quality of work from their past jobs. Written bids are a MUST. Contracts are a MUST.

Everyone says references, but even the worst contractors have someone who was happy with their work or owed them a favor, so I don't put much faith in that unless you know the person refering them. If a friend, or someone you trusts gives you a recomendation, run with it.

Good luck!

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I'll back up FarmBoy, if you are looking at a fair amount of work and don't have the time or experience to GC it yourself, hire one. The GC is responsible for the project. They have the experience to get the job done quickly with a minimum of headaches. It's worth the money. I'm not a GC so I'm not biased, I have, however worked for people trying to do the GC themselves, and it went very poorly. Just my two cents.

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farmboy is right on- im a dislocated contactor and the gc is the most underrated person in the whole deal. most times the subs are making more than the gc/ people dont realize how much work goes into running a project like yours well from the sound of it anyway. start with the smallest add in the paper, some of the hardest working people cant afford 3 g's a month to advertize well thats my .02, keep in mind if the company does good work a few will hear, a company does shotty work ten will hear. good luck

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Yes, I agree with the GC. You have one point of contact and they take care of the rest. I also agree that you want to make sure they specify most everything on the bid, not just some arbitrary number that means nothing to you. You are their customer and you need to be certain you fully understand what they will be doing, what materials they will use, the quality of the materials they will use, the quality of the work that will be done, and what assurance they provide that they will do what the contract says they will do.

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Agreed with a lot of whats been said as far as the GC but in this case I don't think you need one only for the reason the list you have isn't a big juggling act. Still hes going to make your life easier. Think of a GC as a Conductor. He'll put the orchestra together and make it all happen. If he is good there are musicians that will work with him and he probably has some good musicians he worked with before.

You might think that if you do all the leg work that you'll save money. Well a GC has a way/relationship with different trades that you don't so its quite possible the GC is going to get a better bid from the same electrician that you choose yourself.

Instead of references and bids for GC's your going to get many bids and references for all the siding, electrical, concert, and asphalt work. None of them really conflict on the scheduling aspect though.

Having said all that get bids both ways. You being the GC and then hiring a GC. As said references and bibs that compare apples to apples.

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In this economy you should consider this.

Ask the contractor if on how long their subs work for them.

Also ask them if they are busy.

The closer they live to you the better, stay away from

Contractors that live far away,

it's pretty much a buyers market in this economy.

So the pressure is on to do the best quality at a fair price.

I do know a neihbor that is busy and I would recomend him to

any of my friends, with out a shadow of doubt.

Lives in bloomington email me if you like

longlake612@comcast.net

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Patti, have you found anyone yet? I would check with River Dan, he's a gen contractor by trade and you can't go wrong dealing with him. One of the best guys I know.

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