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      11-01-2019, 03:38 PM   #599
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Originally Posted by RickFLM4 View Post
I would not rely on website testimonials to select a contractor and I would not rely on a realtor for anything. Iíd 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 canít give me a reasonably detailed quote of cost and time in a timely manner I donít 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 wouldnít mind showing you the work the contractor did and look at it in detail. Youíll also want to check their license and BBB status. Youíll be surprised how many contractors youíll 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 wonít 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 donít 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, donít 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 donít want to pay unnecessary markup on subs and materials that I can avoid with minimal effort.
That's what we did on our house in Atlanta. A good networking base to help establish the good from the bad. This go-round we live in a different state many hours from those contacts. We are in an apartment now while we finish up the house hunt. Our friends and neighbors are typically within the apartment community with no family nearby and we both are home-based for work. We're on a bit of an island unfortunately.

I'm tempted to play general contractor; this is what I did on my last remodel. Saved about 50% on the overall cost compared to what the GC's quoted in initially. But I knew the subs. So far my best recommendations in our new town are coming from realtors that are probably getting a kickback and what I've been able to find on the internet (which I read as, who gave Google the most money).