Aim to get it done on time.
                     Aim to get it done on budget.
    Aim to get it done right the first time.

     Los Angeles General Contractor

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Hiring a contractor in Los Angeles? Our hiring a contractor tips can save you a lot of money on aspirin, not to mention a truck load of money."

Ted Hill - Aim Higher Construction - LA General Contractor

general contractors
Our general contractors think the details out ahead of time, everything looks and works better.

Here's the skinny on hiring general contractors...

Los Angeles has a lot of homes, and with a house, everything eventually needs to be repaired or replaced, so there's a lot of Los Angeles general contractors out there ready to do the job, the rub is, not many have pride in what they do or your best interest at heart. Just the way it is these days.

To many general contractors in Los Angeles...

Know you have better things to do on the weekend, not to mention the fact you don't have the tools and skill to get it done, and eventually you'll end up hiring one of them. But you don't want one of them,  you want a general contractor with experience, a pro to get quality home remodeling done, someone who has pride in what they do and your best interest at heart.

So here's how to hire a contractor you'll be happy with...

In Los Angeles or any other city. It's pretty simple, you just start with getting a proposal / estimate / bid or whatever you want to call it (this will tell you a lot about a contractor, we'll tell you what to look for) and then you evaluate their estimate (we'll walk you through it). You need to know what to look for to protect you financially and your home from shoddy work.

The estimate will tell you a lot about a contractor...
With a general grasp of estimates, you'll be able to understand and compare a detailed proposal that includes a full scope of work, to a fly-by-night company who throws a low-ball number out there (with no details on how money is spent) just to get your business.

That's why hiring a general contractor based on a low bid...

Usually ends up costing you a lot more in the end when all the overages have to be paid due to not thinking and planning the job out from day one.

What it takes to understand general contractors...

Is some key knowledge under your belt, then you'll be much better equipped to communicate with, understand and evaluate your contractor. This will make hiring a general contractor much easier, not to mention much more productive and enjoyable for you both.

Now let's break it down into sections and address each component individually on general contractors and sub contractors.

SCOPE OF WORK: When you hiring a general contractor, this is what he's  going to do for you. Make sure it covers all the things you want completed. It should spell out any preparation work, protection of surrounding areas, clean up, (make sure they haul it away as well as sweep it up) etc. Reviewing the scope of work between general contractors is key in evaluating their estimate.

PAINTERS: How are they preparing the surface? This step makes or breaks a paint job. Define if they are hand scraping / sanding all loose paint (best). Power washing the exterior (be careful as this can damage surrounding areas and you must wait for the wall to fully dry before proceeding with work). Priming (best), spot priming (OK). Define the coats of paint, brand, quality, etc. Make sure they agree to protect surrounding areas and clean up any debris during and after the project is completed.

LANDSCAPER:  When planting trees or shrubs, it is essential that your shrubs and the root balls of your trees be planted below the ground. Do not accept the approach of making a shallow hole, then placing the plant in it and surrounding the root ball with a mound of dirt and mulch. Make sure the landscaper removes the wire around the root ball or unties the twine and places the root ball fully in the ground until only about 6" extends above ground. Make sure they guarantee the installation and life of the plant for a specified period of time. Make sure they agree to clean up and haul all debris away before hiring a contractor. Understand your responsibilities for watering.

ROOFER:  Roofs rarely leak from shingle failure; they leak from "flashing failure". The stuff you typically can't see is where water gets in. This is one of the key hiring a contractor tips, make sure they specify where flashing is used. Review how they flash an outside corner of a chimney or wall. On a brick home, it's best to cut the brick joints for the flashing and then seal the joint. This is much better than nailing the flashing to the brick wall and relying on caulk. If you live in a cold climate, make sure they install a rubber ice / water shield along the entire edge of your roof extending from the roofs edge to at least 24" past the exterior wall. Also make sure when hiring a contractor they agree to protect your plants and shrubs and clean up any debris daily. Make surer they haul all debris away. Learning how to hire a contractor is knowing what questions to ask, and asking them before the job starts.

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PLUMBER: If possible, try to negotiate a fixed price for their work. Cleaning out a clogged drain is often priced on a "per foot" basis of the "clean-out snake" used, but some plumbers give a fixed price for this work. Check around and compare. I highly recommend you don't wait till it's an emergency and pre-select a drain cleaner now. Find out up front the price for emergency calls to avoid any surprises later.

THE FINE PRINT: What "is" and what "is not" included in the bid. Sometimes general contractors make allowances or assumptions in their bid, such as material quantity, access to your home, etc. Also, they will sometimes specify what they exclude in the bid. Carefully review assumptions and exclusions with the general contractor. Question them as to the reasonableness of any assumptions and exclusions. Do it in a nice way, but do it. If not, these items will likely become a Change Order later (more money from you). Finding the right contractor is all about evaluating and comparing bids between contractors, assumptions and exclusions will highlight where you have the big differences.

CONTRACTOR COMMITMENTS: Here I'm just concerned with the contractor's willingness to put in writing any of the verbal representations he or she has made to you to get the job. If they have made oral commitments but won't put them in writing, that's a REJECT. Of all the hiring a contractor tips, this one is paramount.

PRICE: When hiring a general contractor look for a contract price that is well broken down, clear and easily understood. If it is unclear then they have not taken the time to understand your requirements, the scope of work, or the job. And don't necessarily make the selection only on price, quality is important.

INCENTIVES: It is extremely important that the contractor NOT offer you a discount or cash incentives for immediately signing the contract.

CONTRACT PAYMENT TERMS: Try to be invoiced by mail after the work is completed, but expect most to want payment right after work is done. If they want cash, that's not a great sign. If materials were needed before work can start (e.g., roofer or painter), they want an initial payment for materials. Try to minimize this amount as much as you can.
I don't recommend you ever pay more than 33% up front and ONLY agree to that with a very reputable company.