When you talk to a general contractor, clearly communicate your ideas with clear communication or drawings. Ask questions and listen to the responses given. Effective communication is extremely important for a customer/general contractor relationship. Drawings aren't necessary for this relationship, but sometimes helpful.
Always give each general contractor the same information regarding the project.
When interviewing a general contractor, ask:
Are you a licensed general contractor in this state?
Check with the Department of Labor & Industries to insure the general contractor is licensed and bonded.
Can I have three references from customers in the past 12 months? Past three years?
Use references to check the general contractor's current and past work history.
What insurance coverage do you have?
At a minimum, general contractors should have Workman's Compensation, general liability (including property and personal liability), and automobile insurance. These policies help protect you and your property from potential legal problems should an accident occur. Call the insurance agency to confirm effective dates of the insurance policies.
How long have you been in business?
A general contractor with at least five years experience usually has a stable business foundation and is reliable.
Based on the project detail, what permits may be required?
The general contractor should be familiar with local building code requirements.
May I have an itemized estimate on the project and a time frame?
The estimate should be in writing. If the estimate comes back and there are questions, ask them! If you wanted it itemized and it was a flat fee, ask the contractor to be more specific. All people's preferences are different.Some want the contractor to provide an hourly rate, some just want a price, some want specifics and since the contractor probably has dealt with many people at this point in his career he has no idea what your preference is. So just ask him. Also, there may be room to negotiate or maybe a different way or route of taking. If the price isn't realistic for your budget, speak up. Maybe the contractor can do most of the work himself and not have to hire subcontractors or maybe he can work with a cheaper material. There is usually wiggle room. We understand no one likes to spend money...but it's usually necessary to make your home more beautiful, more useful, and it adds monetary value and makes your home worth more money. There are many home repairs that not done in a timely manner will hurt your home and bring the value down.
From a contractors point of view:
There are many ups and downs in regards to remodeling your Seattle home.......
First, every remodeling job creates some degree of disorder, dust, uncertainty, and inconvenience. People will be tearing apart your house and putting it back together again -- many of them people you have never met. We understand that this can be an unsettling experience and, accordingly, we expect our crews and subcontractors to respect the fact that this is your home they are working in and not a vacant warehouse. We want to know if you have any problems in this area so that we can take immediate steps to correct them.Second, remodeling proceeds in stages. One of the most difficult stages is working through the plan and permit process. Hopefully, by the time you are reading this blog, you are finished with this process and are well into the stage of having your ideas turned into working construction drawings. Another difficult early stage is the demolition phase. You will see new faces in and around your home on a regular basis. The insides of your house will be exposed. Electrical, heating, or plumbing services may be intermittently interrupted during this time. Dust, dirt, debris piles, and dumpsters will be visible in and around the work area. All of this can be rather stressful.
Don’t worry -- the demolition phase goes quickly, and will be cleaned up just as rapidly. Once the framing nears completion, people usually feel very optimistic and start to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
After the framing is completed and the plumbing, electrical, and mechanical work are under way, the project can appear to slow down because the progress is not as dramatic and visible as in the framing phase. However, a lot of detail work is done at this time. For instance, there are many required inspections by building officials. It’s critical that the work be done thoroughly at this point prior to insulating and closing the walls with drywall.
Next comes the drywall stage. When the walls are covered with drywall, suddenly the rooms take on their true proportions and people start to imagine what it will be like to move back in.
Unfortunately, the final phase of work can seem to take a long time. The finish work -- grading and exterior concrete flat work; interior and exterior painting; installation of all interior doors and finish woodwork; installation of cabinets, tile, and floor coverings; installation of finish plumbing and electrical fixtures; installation of shelving, closet poles, mirrors, shower doors, hardware, appliances, etc. -- requires time and the efforts of many subcontractors.This can be especially frustrating and makes anyone anxious respectively. It is very important you trust your contractor to use good judgment, have patience, and allow the proper time to pass to let things dry and be finished before touching it or moving furniture back. We can understand this is the hardest time because by now you are really tired of having your house shared with others. But if you do not follow the specific instructions of your contractor and listen to their directions, you might jeopardize all that hard work and it could cost you! It requires time and money to make changes and repairs at the home owners expense so please stay out of their way until told other wise! Please hang in there! It is almost done!
Nevertheless, thanks to a well-planned and coordinated scheduling effort during this phase, the day arrives when your project is completed. Finally, your house is once again yours, free of the constant construction activity that has transformed it into the new spaces that we hope you will enjoy.