How Do I Choose a General Contractor?

Choosing a General Contractor is extremely important for your project. Watch out for unusually low bides. Most people will get at least three bids for comparison purposes. A common practice of unscrupulous contractors is to first get your business by throwing out an extremely low bid on the project and then try to make a contract that is as vague as possible, leaving room for them to cut corners, take longer than expected, or both. If you have multiple bids it enables you to choose to discard any that seem "too low" in comparison to the others. 

Interviewing for the Job

  • Set up appointments with at least three contractors, and don't hesitate to expand your list. The more, the better. Estimates are free, and you may leave with good ideas, even if you don't end up choosing that contractor for the job.
  • This is not a time for trust. Ask for everything from proof of worker's compensation insurance to any licenses that the State of Hawaii requires. Most importantly, ask for references from recent jobs. When you call, it doesn't hurt to ask if the homeowner is willing to let you see the work that was done. 
  • The bids you receive from contractors should be in writing and should include these four points:
    1. Details of the work to be done
    2. Materials that will be used
    3. A time frame for the work to be completed 
    4. A firm price
  • When comparing each contractor make sure you give the same specs for the job you are want an estimate for, otherwise known as a bid. It may be tempting to choose the contractor on the basis of price but make sure to take a look at the details of the bid, especially the work to be done and the materials to be used.
  • If your project requires remodeling rather than an addition, be sure to choose a contractor who has a lot of experience in remodeling and not just construction. This is important because remodeling requires a lot of rerouting, replumbing, and working an an existing structure and infrastructure.