A general contractor hires, supervises and pays all the subcontractors (roofer, plumber, electrician, painter, landscaper, framer, etc.), orders and arranges deliveries of materials, and in general makes the project run smoothly and on budget. Because you sign with the general contractor, he is your goto man and holds ultimate responsibility so it's vital to hire someone who is highly qualified and with whom you are comfortable.
Some people think they will not need to hire a general contractor, but if the project will cost more than $500.00 you need to hire a licensed contractor and if the project requires more than two trades, you need a general contractor. Using subcontractors or company employees, the general contractor has the knowledge to oversee the work and make sure it is done correctly according to the plan & current code.
One easy way to choose a contractor is to know a good one personally. Another way is to get referrals from friends and relatives who have had work done.
Here is a list of things to consider before hiring a contractor:
Check their license. Go to the Contractors State License Board and check every contractor's license. Make sure the info matches up to what the contractor gave you. Contractor's license is non-transferable, the name should match the number and it is illegal for an individual to use someone else's contractor's license. Also, every contractor has a card issued by the state board with all their information so don’t be shy to ask for it for your personal records. If the information doesn't add up, we recommend that you do not hire them.
Check their insurance coverage. If you hire a contractor without worker's compensation and liability insurance, you (and your homeowner's insurance) are liable for any injuries to workers, which may occur during your project. Be sure to obtain a copy of the contractor's insurance certificate and check to see that the document is still in force by calling the insurance carrier.
Check contractor's references. Any contractor worth hiring should be able to give you a list of people for whom the work has been done in the past. Call some of the references and ask questions to get a better feel for the contractor through a customer’s eyes.
Get two or three bids. Always get more than one bid -- without a comparison you won't know if you are paying a fair price for the work – and pay attention to how the proposal is written. Vague and sloppy proposals often spell future headaches and hidden costs. The lowest bid is not always the best! Make sure the bids you are comparing offer the same services and quality products.
Final decision. Base your decision on a feedback from the referrals, personal interview, experience and price.