Most homeowners and business owners in Northern California (and beyond) are not trained in project management. This lack of training can rebound to terrible effect, if/when you need to make major repairs on your property, electrical system, plumbing, HVAC system, etc. To that end, let’s give you some ground rules to help you make better decisions – and how to hire a general contractor.

First and foremost, general contractors are best for larger jobs. If the job is simple and cheap (less than $500), and if you don’t need permits or special training, you can either do it yourself or find a handyman (or handywoman) to take care of things for you.

But beware! Even seemingly straightforward projects have a funny way of expanding beyond their scope — consuming tons of time and/or costing way more than your original estimate.

When searching for a contractor, do your due diligence. Ask yourself: is the company a Better Business Bureau accredited business with a high rating? Are the professionals licensed and certified? Does the company handle work in and around your area? Does the company boast good reviews from satisfied customers?

Talk to a company representative in person and ask detailed questions about your project – prepare your list of questions first, so you can speak intelligently when you are on the phone.

Avoid going for the “bargain basement” contractor, since “ultra cheap price” usually translates to “ultra cheap workmanship.” And ultra cheap workmanship can be horribly expensive to fix.

Find a contractor who has good project management skills. Project management is all about planning and control. You need to order the scope of the project so that “mission creep” doesn’t occur. You need to plan the budget and timeframe carefully. A good company should be able to manage the project effectively, so there are no surprises – or least that surprises are minimized.

The planning part is almost more important than the execution part, in that if you fail to plan, you are almost certain to wind up disappointed, stressed, or generally overwhelmed.

Whether you work with a contractor – or by yourself on a project at home, remember these two things: Plan and control. For help with your East Bay Area general contracting needs, connect with the team here at BA Morrison. Our family-owned business has been in the general contract construction and HVAC business for over two decades. Call us now at 510-538-9817 for help.

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