So you’ve decided that you are either too inexperienced to act as general contractor on your rehab property, or you have the experience, but would rather outsource the job and spend your time and energy in different ways. Then how do you go about finding an awesome general contractor to complete your job on time, under budget, and to a level of quality that you expect? There is a whole mess of low-quality contractors out there to filter out, but do not despair. There is also an abundance of high-quality contractors out there if you are willing to go out and find them.
Referrals, Referrals, Referrals
Building a list of contractors will take time and effort, but to create high quality leads, one of the most effective methods is asking people you know who they have hired to complete their projects for them. If your friends, family members, or fellow real estate investor associates have had success with a contractor in the past and can attest to the quality of their work, then they are likely to be a good candidate for your own future projects.
If you already know some quality contractors, then it’s worth asking them who they like to work with and adding these contractors to your list.
A good real estate agent will also be connected to other real estate investors who hire contractors and therefore is also a good resource for referrals.
It is worth asking the local building supply company or local building inspectors who they would recommend since they will be frequently working with in-demand contractors.
You could also search online for real estate investment groups in the area of your project and shoot them an email asking if they can recommend any general contractor who does good work. If they’ve worked with investors before, they will know how important it is to keep costs down for your flip.
You can also use Yelp or Thumbtack to search for contractors and check the user reviews (taken with a grain of salt, of course).
Once you have built a list of high-quality contractor leads, it’s time to put on your HR hat and screen any candidates that could turn your project into a disaster. Seek out any and all public information about them online. Do a Google search of their name and their company name to see what comes up. (You might even tack on a “scam” or “court” or “rip-off” next to their name in your search to see what comes up, but be wary that not all complaints are valid and use your best judgment).
At this point, if there are any candidates you are still feeling strongly about, you can give them a call and see how they present themselves. Pre-screen them with some questions:
- Is your company insured with adequate coverage?
- How long have you been in business?
- What is your license number?
- How much should the project cost?
Make sure you ask the contractor candidate for references from his previous jobs. Make sure to actually call them and have a conversation with them.
- What job did they do for you?
- How quickly did they complete it?
- Did you have any problems working with them?
- Would you hire them in the future?
- May I see the finished product?