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      11-01-2019, 03:25 PM   #597
RickFLM4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spazzyfry123 View Post
For those that have used general contractors for renovation work, what has been your process for vetting? We're looking at purchasing a fixer-upper in a great neighborhood, but unsure how to find the right guys for the heavy lifting in a new city with no references. Our real estate agent has a few lined up, but curious if there's a catch all website to track testimonials and track record.
I would not rely on website testimonials to select a contractor and I would not rely on a realtor for anything. I’d be much more inclined to ask neighbors and friends / family / co-workers in the area, which will give you contractors to call and others to avoid. Diligence in finding a contractor is far more involved than looking in one place.

The first step is being sure you know what you want to do so you can talk specifics. Think about walking into a car dealer with no idea what you want or what cars should cost vs. being an informed shopper. Same concept applies. Houzz is a pretty good place to get some ideas, as well as some example costs.

I usually meet the contractor in person to get a sense of their attitude and attention to detail. When we meet I establish what I am looking for in a bid / estimate. If they can’t give me a reasonably detailed quote of cost and time in a timely manner I don’t bother calling them back. Once you have an contractor and estimate that seem reasonable, get references and call them. Ask at least one reference if they wouldn’t mind showing you the work the contractor did and look at it in detail. You’ll also want to check their license and BBB status. You’ll be surprised how many contractors you’ll need to call just to get to this point with 2-3 of them.

Personally, I also try to find at least some of the subs and buy some of the materials myself. Some GCs won’t allow that so they are also out. We have a carpenter, electrician, painter and plumber we like. I want to pay these subs directly rather than being forced to use someone I don’t know that a GC forces on me to mark up their costs. We renovated our master bath for $32K but had numerous estimates that exceeded $50K. I also try to heavily back weight payments to when work is 100% done but am generally ok with progress payments. That said, don’t try to nickel and dime someone with a reasonable quote. They need to make a profit and as long as they are earning it, I have no problem paying it. I just don’t want to pay unnecessary markup on subs and materials that I can avoid with minimal effort.
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