Successful real estate investors cultivate great relationships with other professionals who help them along their journey to build wealth. For example, they can all benefit from a solid relationship with a trusted real estate agent, accountant with specialized real estate knowledge, and general contractor.
Finding an honest, reliable contractor who performs high-quality work on schedule and at a fair price is essential. Whether you flip properties, wholesale them, rent them out, or take a different approach, you’ll invariably need work done on the residential or commercial properties you buy. The integrity of the work, the accuracy of cost and timeline estimates, and how much you pay all have a direct effect on your bottom line.
This is why it’s so important to know how to choose a general contractor to perform maintenance, upgrades, remodeling, expansions, and other work on your investment properties. Some due diligence at the start goes a long way toward protecting your profits—not to mention preventing all sorts of stress that can result from the wrong contractor choice.
Here are some tips on how to choose a general contractor who you’ll be happy with, and who can make positive contributions to your real estate investment business for the long run.
Tips for Choosing the Right General Contractor
- Find a contractor before you need one if possible. The search takes time, and is better performed without the pressure of having to make a quick decision.
- Start with a broad search, but carefully consider at least five general contractors before making a final decision.
- Ask friends, family, and colleagues who live in the area of your investment property for recommendations. Getting affirmation from someone you know who’s worked with the contractor before is a highly valuable part of the vetting process.
- Read online reviews of any contractor you’re considering. You’re unlikely to find one with nothing but perfect reviews, as anyone who’s been in business a while eventually has some detractors—sometimes justified, sometimes not. But look for common themes. If there are multiple complaints that mention similar things, there’s probably truth to them. If the vast majority of reviews are similarly positive, you should be able to trust them.
- Do basic research about the contractor. How long have they been in business? Are they fully licensed and insured? Do they have a business address and contact information? Are they a member of professional associations? Do they have professional certifications? Do they have attributed testimonials on their website? Do they have a portfolio of completed projects?
- Talk to the contractor about their typical availability and their ability to handle projects of the type and scope you’ll need.
- Find a general contractor with good relationships with subcontractors and skilled laborers in various disciplines.
- Ask the contractor whether they have relationships with other real estate investors. If you own multiple properties or are planning to grow your property portfolio soon, is the contractor willing to give you a better price in return for a guarantee of a certain amount of work? Do they offer a payment plan you’re comfortable with?
- Ask for references. Contact them.
- Find out who does the work. Is the contractor there in person? Are the workers employees, and if so, how long have they been with the company? Are temporary workers regularly brought in?
- Meet with the contractor in person if possible to get a better sense of them and to make sure you have an agreeable rapport.
- Pay attention to the quality of communication. Is the contractor responsive, friendly, and professional? Do you get detailed, satisfactory answers to all your questions?
- Narrow down your list of potential hires to two or three and get bids from each on your first project. Don’t for a lowball bid, though; it’s a red flag that the contractor may cut corners, use lower-quality materials, and/or be desperate for work (which isn’t usually a good sign).
- Only work with a contractor who presents you with a professional, thorough contract that puts everything in writing.