Author Archives: admin

How to Hire a General Contractor

Who Do You Really Need?
How big is your project? Does it need a permit? Is it less than $500?
If so, you can probably get by with hiring a reputable handyman unless it requires special licensing such as plumbing or electrical.

Get Recommendations.
Turn to your family and friends first. Word of mouth is the best advertising and they can share their recommendations and horror stories. If you come up dry there, try a local lumberyard. They know which contractors are regulars and buy quality products. They also tend to recommend those that pay their bills on time, showing that they are financially capable.

Call Them Up.
Once you have your list, give them a call. Ask pertinent questions such as “do they take on projects your size?”, “can they give you a list of prior clients?”, and “how long have they worked with their subcontractors?”.

Get Estimates.
Pick your favorites from the phone interviews and get them onsite for an estimate. Make sure you are comfortable with them. Do they appear knowledgeable about your project? Remember these people will be in your house for hours at a time. Do you feel they can meet your need? Ask for a detailed bid. Remember that materials is usually only about 40% of the total estimate. The rest accounts for overhead and labor costs. Also make sure you have a budget decided and know exactly what you are looking to have done.

Don’t Pick the Lowest.
Estimates will have quite a wide range. Don’t go with the cheapest unless they come well referred. Being the lowest usually indicates that they are cutting corners, not fully insured or licensed, or desperate for work. All of which, are signs to look elsewhere. Pick someone you are comfortable with and that you can communicate well with. Pick the one that seems to be “on the same page” about your project.

Set the Payment Schedule.
Be wary of the contractor that wants to be paid up front. Even 50% to start a large job is quite a bit. Small jobs consist of usually only two payments. One up front and one either towards the end or at completion. Large projects are usually broken into more payments. One to start that may be 15-30% of the total price and then equally spaced payments through out the job at set intervals or when milestones are reached.

Get it in Writing.
Draw up a contract that outlines the work to be done, the pay schedule, and start and estimated completion dates. Get a proof of insurance and license. Make sure all parties are clear on every detail.

Enjoy Your Project.
The hard part for you should be almost over. Now you just relax why the general contractor takes care of your need and provides you with everything outlined in the contract.

Protecting Your Concrete Driveway Investment

Nothing is truly maintenance free, including your concrete driveway. Fortunately, one of the best things about your concrete driveway is how little maintenance it actually needs to provide years of service. Below are some tips to help it last the test of time.

Keep it Clean and Sealed.
Cleaning your driveway at least once a month will keep the acidic debris from eating away at your investment. In a harsher climate such as North Dakota, you want to seal your driveway at least every 2 years if not every year. Sealing your driveway or patio can be a do-it-yourself task or you can hire a reputable contractor. Either way, it is an economical way to protect your investment.

Remove Stains Right Away.
Even though concrete sealer protects your concrete from stains, it is a good idea to clean any stains immediately. Oil and grease should be cleaned right away if possible using a pressure washer or garden hose with sufficient pressure to remove the stain. If the concrete does stain, there are cleaning chemicals available to remove most stains. Ask your preferred contractor for details.

Pass on the “Salt”.
Using deicers can cause surface damage, especially on new concrete. Products containing ammonium nitrates and ammonium sulphates are especially harmful because they attack concrete chemically. Rock salt will do less damage to the concrete, but will harm nearby vegetation and metal objects. Use sand instead for traction and to clear ice (the warming rays of the sun on the dark matter will melt ice).

Keep the Weight Off.
Although strong, concrete driveways used in residential settings are not strong enough to support the weight of heavy trucks and construction equipment. It’s best to limit your driveway to lighter loads like your vehicles.

Why Hire a General Contractor?

What’s the benefit of hiring a General Contractor?
A general contractor does all the legwork for you. We pull the permits (if applicable), we schedule the subcontractors and make sure they are licensed and insured. Most of all the general contractor keeps the project moving.

I don’t mind shuffling paperwork, can’t I do all that myself?
A general contractor will not only shuffle the paperwork, but we know the order that a project must be completed in and have a good feel for how long it will take each subcontractor to finish their role in the project. This helps keep a project on track and completed in a timely fashion.

I’ve been a faithful watcher of DIY TV, I think I know the order of completion. Won’t I save money by organizing everything myself?
It may seem that the all the general contractor does is act as head foreman, but we are actually working for you also. Since we deal with the subcontractors all the time, we know which ones are good and which ones aren’t. We can do all the vetting for you. Also since we use the subcontractors more than once, we can usually get a better price because we are providing steady work. Subcontractors don’t know if you will be a professional and organized boss, and more importantly, they are aware that this is probably a one-time job, which can result in you being low on the priority list for scheduling. Also a subcontractor is less likely to walk off the job or do shoddy work when working for a general contractor. They want to get hired back!

OK, so if I hire a general contractor, what can I expect?
When you hire a reputable general contractor, you can count on your project getting done right. You can be assured all the necessary permits will be pulled and the project will keep moving in a timely fashion. You won’t have to worry about scheduling subcontractors and you know it will be finished professionally and conform to all applicable building codes. We handle the small stuff before it becomes big problems!