For most businesses, the main challenge of a renovation project isn't the project itself – it is finding a reliable and trustworthy contractor to do the job.

How to find the right General Contractor

Here are some tips that will help you find the right contractor while keeping your budget and sanity under control.

Have clear expectations

First, be clear about what you want to achieve. Don’t start by talking to contractors. You will get a more precise estimate if you can be specific about what you expect and the materials you want to use.

Interview at Least 5 Contractors

Don’t assume anything and ask for a written proposal with an estimate from each contractor. When comparing bids, make sure each one includes the same tasks and materials, so you compare oranges and oranges.

Consider a delayed project

A contractor’s availability change depending on the time of the year, but reliable contractors have consistent workflow during the year, so expect to wait a few months for your project to start. Set your timeline to the worst-case scenario and prepare yourself.

Ask for the jobs to be done by Subcontractors

A renovation may require the contractor to hire in Subcontractors for specialized work such as electrical, plumbing, or detailed carpentry. You will want to know when outside workers will be in the business. The Contractor here will be the one responsible for the outcome of the project.

Not all Contractors are good at every job.

Not all Contractors are the same; make sure that the one you choose has previous experience with a project with your demands. Look for a company that routinely does the kind of project you want to be done. Don’t be the test project.

Check Licenses, Litigation and complains records

Always look for licensed General Contractors and most Subcontractors, though the procedure varies by municipality and state. Ask for information at the state disciplinary boards, Better Business Bureau, and local court records for issues.

Ask the contractor for his license and from the Subcontractors who will be involved in the project.

Check References

Talk to both clients and Subcontractors, for instance, ask if the Contractor pays them on time. Ask previous clients if the Contractor’s estimate was close to the final cost, if they got along with the Project Manager, and if it’s possible to see photos of the final project.

Sign a Detailed Contract

Make sure your contract specifies what task will be done, including deadlines, payment schedule, the same materials used down to the model number, and who will provide which materials. Any change should be done in writing

Get the Proper Permits

Nearly all renovations projects require permits. Many irregular companies and some licensed Contractors will suggest that the job can be done without permits to save money.

Doing a job without permission violates the law. Beyond the monetary penalties, you would be putting your business in jeopardy because the work will not be inspected by the city or county to make sure it’s up to code. Unpermitted work can also cause problems when it’s time to sell your home or business. Be careful of Contractors who ask you to obtain the permits – that’s the contractor’s job.

Be Prepare for Unexpected Costs

No matter how much planning you do, there would be surprises that add to the cost. Contractors can’t predict the future. Expect to spend at least 15% more than what is estimated in your contract.

Verify Insurance Coverage

In the case of weather or accident events that may cause damage to your business while the work is in the process. Know what is covered by your business insurance and what is covered by your Contractor’s business insurance. Ask for the company’s insurance policy.