7 tips to hire an ideal building contractor in Los Angeles

Jul 5, 2018 | Building

Not every building contractor is fit to work on every project, so before you decide, having the proper discernment will ultimately optimize your investment.

The 7 most important tips to hire the ideal building contractor.

1. Know what you want and why. It may seem like a silly pointer; however, you would be surprised how many homeowners can skip through this critical stage in their home remodeling journey.

Yes, that’s right! Knowing the remodel or addition you want to perform in your house is vital. Houzz idea books or Pinterest could freshen up some ideas on how you want your home to look. Keep in mind the design style and the expertise of your potential contractor.

Some contractors specialize in specific areas, so knowing if your second story addition is going to follow a contemporary design will save you some time. You wouldn’t want a contractor that specializes in kitchen remodels or mid-century traditional designs to take on this project.

Know why you want the remodel. Some homeowners want a room addition to have a playroom for grandchildren visits. Others want to open up the floor plan to host more comfortable gatherings. But let’s say you want to add a guest room, rent it out and earn some extra income in the process. Wouldn’t it be beneficial to count with a contractor that could convert your garage, that way your guest room is not in the house, and deterring your privacy?

Levi Design Build has over ten years of experience designing, and building complete home remodels, second story additions, garage conversions, and room additions. For more information on how we can asses you, you can contact us.

Knowing the purpose you want to accomplish with your remodel will allow your meetings with potential contractors to be more efficient and your whole process smoother.

2. Research. Now that you know that the opportunity to remodel your home is factual and that you precisely want a guest room addition, you must begin to research. Now, we are not asking you to become a room addition expert, but just as it is vital to know what you purchase, whether it is a toy or a Mercedes, it is no different with home remodels.

What are the average costs per square feet for what I want to do? What design do I want? What contractors do that type of job in my area? Could a second story addition benefit my home by adding a room without reducing lot size? Etc.

It is usually at this stage when most potential home remodelers will find themselves discouraged. Frequently, because it is here where you can begin getting some ballpark estimates for your project’s cost. And this brings us to one of the reasons why research is essential; it will dictate whether you have the budget or not to achieve your objective. Always trust your research, but corroborate it with industry experts.

An excellent way to get a quick and reliable estimate is with our cost calculator.

3. Aim to work with one team! Like we mentioned before, it is common for contractors to specialize in specific areas or expertise, and more often than not, you will find up to four different teams working in one project.

A design/build firm is somewhat of your one-stop shop, where you will find all your home construction needs taken care of. At Levi Design Build we count with a team of architects, designers, contractors, and builders that have merged in one of Los Angeles most prominent boutique construction firms.

Having all your efforts channeled through one team will improve the effectiveness and communication in your project. And if you ask me, I am all for efficacy and smooth communication when it comes to a major remodel in my home.

Counting with a design/build firm will also reduce your overall costs. Hiring different professionals separately for one project will ultimately raise your investment. And you must acknowledge that the more teams involved in one project also detriments responsibility allocation. Making it a terrible problem when a mistake occurs.

By now you already know what you want and why you want it, you have done some research, read blogs and have selected specific references of what you want, while also recognizing the importance of working with one team. What now? Time to find your team!

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4. Meet with at least three companies that are apples to apples. You have now preselected between three to five companies that have the same expertise; this will allow your comparison to be more reasonable. You checked their online presence, and they have provided valuable information that establishes them as a trusted and reliable authority in their industry and niche. Pick your top options and begin setting up meetings.

When you meet them, be sure to ask the right questions.

a) Does the building contractor have experience in projects like mine? If you are doing a master bedroom addition, have they done projects like those?

b) Do they have all building licenses? The company you hire must be licensed to work in your state and have the proper coverages that will protect you and them from the incidents that construction may imply.

c) How long have you been in business?

d) Can I see your certificate of insurance?

e) Will you obtain the permits and set up the inspections required for this job?

f) What are your timeframes for completion? Are there any other projects you’re working on now that could affect our schedule? Do you have any current bids that haven’t been finalized that could impact this job? How will necessary changes to our timeline be addressed?

g) What is the payment schedule?

h) Will I have a dedicated team working on my job? Will the same team be working on my home each day? Who is the project manager, and what precisely will he oversee each day? Do you work with subcontractors? If so, what have you done to qualify them correctly, and are they covered by your liability and worker’s compensation insurance? How often will the business owner check in on the progress of the project?

i) What way would you like me to get in touch with you?

j) What is your working day? What are the approximate start and end times for construction day(s)? Do I need to remove any items that are in or near work areas? What will the noise level be? Do you need me to be home at any point during the day?

k) How will you clean up at the end of the day?

l) How and where will tools and materials be stored if the job spans multiple days?

m) What steps will you take to protect my property?

n) How will we deal with additional charges?

o) Is there a warranty for your service or for the materials you’ll be using?

p) How do we resolve any disagreements that may surface through the project?

These questions will allow you to measure the professionalism with which each contractor confronts each project. Do not be afraid to ask compromising and hard questions.

Once you have met with at least three companies, and have done your proper research, these answers will clear the way to better understanding who is the fittest contractor for your project.

5. Review the building contractor’s portfolio and reviews. Once you meet with your potential construction firm, it is imperative to ask for their portfolio and consciously review the past jobs they have finished.

Keep in mind that when it comes to selling, everyone is going to talk marvels of the quality of their work; however, the best way to ensure that their talk is backed up by facts is to see what they have actually done. Some of the things that you must look for in a company’s portfolio are clean-cut finishes on walls and floors, before and after photos and the scope of the construction.

Carefully dissect their style and attention for details, this will evidence the type of clients they have previously worked with and if they are similar to what you want. Their past works will also guide you in aligning your vision with theirs. But portfolios are not the only way to corroborate their reputation and experience. Go to different authoritative sites and see for yourself what other clients have said about them.

You can visit Houzz, BBB, Google, and Facebook to have a glimpse of the opinion that others have of our work. See the number of positive reviews they have and compare to other potential companies.

6. Visit ongoing projects. A professional building contractor will have a positive standing relationship with their clients. Hence there is no better way to decide than by seeing them on the job. Be aware of their cleanliness, the attitude of their workers, and their progress.

Construction can be messy, especially in the demolishment phase. Be on the lookout, as you visit any ongoing projects for the carefulness they display in protecting your property. How are they keeping the furniture and walls from being damaged? Are they going the extra mile to ensure your landscape is not being affected negatively?

If the client is home as you visit, don’t be afraid of asking them about the project, the company, and their workers. They will provide valuable information that will build the necessary trust you need to have with someone who will radically change your home.

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7. Be very prudent with quotes you get from the building contractor for your project. Home remodels are not cheap, and they are not supposed to be. Some of this projects could last over six months, so don’t expect or seek a low price. Design/build firms in Los Angeles, or anywhere for that matter, who value their work will give you a quote that reflects their quality.

Too low of a quote may be an alert for several indicators to watch out for:

a) They may be new to the industry, and their lack of experience leads them to give low estimates to ensure clients.

b) They may be too desperate for clients, and if they don’t have ongoing clients, this could signify that their quality is not according to industry standards.

c) Their materials are not of the highest quality. Would you want a home remodel based on the cheapest materials out there?

Always have them give you a full breakdown to understand how your budget will be allocated. Another good indicator of the contractor’s honesty is if they have suggested a contingency budget, usually around 10% of the total project. An experienced contractor knows that every construction project has surprises, so allocating a contingency budget is the most responsible way to go about your remodel.

Once you have finished interviewing and comparing the potential contractors for your home remodeling project, it is time to decide. Remember that every project requires precise planning, creative design, and effective construction. Hiring the ideal contractor in Los Angeles is not an easy task, but our team at Levi Design Build is ready to ensure your home rebuild project is an utter success. For more info, you can schedule a free consultation.