Choosing Your Contractor

Choosing a construction contractor in CaliforniaHaving a contractor on your team will prove to be an incredible investment for many reasons. A general contractor can help you perform basic home upgrades like installing lighting fixtures all the way up to complex construction like building an addition or converting a half bath into a full. It’s important to have a relationship built with a contractor prior to needing one to do the work.

Why Do I Need a Contractor?

  • Every home needs some work done, even if it’s something as minor as patching old nail holes or cleaning carpets.
  • Contractors can usually recommend a good property inspector.
  • Contractors can inspect the property you are looking to buy before you make an offer. Knowing how much the repairs/upgrades will cost before making an offer can be very valuable to you. By doing this, you can price the cost of repairs and upgrades into your offer. For people who do not have construction/rehab backgrounds there are always hidden costs. You would hate to find out after purchasing a new home that what you thought was a minor repair could actually cost thousands of dollars.
  • Contractors can handle almost any job. If they can’t, they can most likely recommend someone who can perform specialized tasks that they may not be familiar with doing.
  • Having your contractor selected in advance can save you time after you’ve already purchased the home. Getting your repairs done quickly means you can enjoy or rent the property sooner.
  • Contractors can save you money. The best contractors look for things you won’t look for and can recommend creative solutions that are either less expensive or will save you money in the long run.

Read: Investing in a Fixer Upper – Interview with a Los Angeles General Contractor

Where Can I Find My Contractor?

Just like with a Real Estate Broker, the best way to find a contractor is via referral. Ask your friends, family members, neighbors and most importantly your Real Estate Broker for referrals. If they are being referred to you by someone you know and trust, it should mean that they have worked with that contractor and had a good experience.

In addition to checking around for references you can also do research on your own online:

  • Google (www.google.com) – Search for “contractors in (city name)” or “(type of work) in (city name)”. For example, “contractors in Woodland Hills CA” or “home remodel in Glendale CA”
  • Craigslist (www.craigslist.org) – Check the Services section of Craigslist or use the search feature.
  • Service Magic (www.servicemagic.com) – This website has a database of contractors all over Southern California. When you contact them you request the type of work you need done. They will source your request to their contractors and about 4 will contact you. It’s 100% free to the end user because they charge the contractors to be in their database. While the contractors do pay to be on there, they are researched by service magic ahead of time for added credibility.
  • Angie’s List (www.angieslist.com) – An online contractor referral network. End users pay to use the site, so contractors have no control over their inclusion or exclusion. You can search for contractors here and read reliable reviews by paid members.

Other Tips For Choosing A Contractor

  • This is the one team member who does not necessarily need to have an online presence for you to trust. Most contractors are sole proprietors. Most of them grew up working construction/doing odd jobs and eventually got licensed and opened their own company. While an online presence is absolutely a plus, a lack of a website or a basic website is not necessarily a red flag.
  • Get multiple bids for work. Even if you know and trust your contractor. This will keep him honest. You may be surprised how much bids can differ.
  • Ask for References. Any good contractor will happily provide them.

Now that you have your Contractor, the next member of your real estate team to choose is your Escrow Officer.

This blog post is a chapter from our upcoming e-book entitled Southern California Real Estate: How To Pay Significantly Less Than Your Neighbors & Avoid Costly Mistakes. Click here to reserve your limited edition FREE COPY.

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