Adulthood teaches us hard lessons - like the fact that not all people treat you the way you would treat them. That’s never truer than when it comes to hiring a general contractor.
Most people don’t know the process for construction building...until after they’ve gone through it. By then, it’s too late for your wallet.
Unethical contractors often trick unsuspecting clients into hiring them, which can mean anything from delayed or botched jobs to straight-up getting ripped off when the contractor disappears with your money.
Luckily, there are ways you can protect yourself and avoid a bad building experience. Here’s everything you need to do when hiring a general contractor so you don’t get ripped off.
Best Steps For Successfully Vetting a General Contractor
Interview more than one contractorThe likelihood you will find a kitchen contractor you like increases if you speak to more than one. Talk to several about your project before you commit to anyone and don’t be afraid to ask specific questions about their processes like:
Your relationship with your contractor is the #1 thing that affects how your project will go. Make sure you choose someone who communicates well and makes you feel at ease.
Ask for referencesThe best way you can figure out if you’ll have a good experience is to talk to others who’ve had one! Ask for a list of references and a portfolio of completed projects. If the contractor you’re talking to doesn’t have this, it’s a huge red flag that they’re hiding something.
Once you get the references, follow through with contacting them. It might be tempting to skip this part if you had a great conversation already. But just because they have the gift of gab doesn’t mean they’ll deliver good work.
The bottom line is to ask for references and check them before you sign up for anything.
Read reviewsWith the internet at your fingertips, use it to get more honest feedback. Google Reviews and Yelp are great places to start with checking your contractor’s background.
This type of independent feedback is even more valuable than references since contractors aren’t dying to give you access to an unhappy client.
Be careful of giving anyone review too much weight though since some people can be unreliable or exaggerate their experience. But a handful of bad reviews? That might be a good reason to go with someone else.
Make sure they’re legitAsk the contractor if they’re licensed, bonded and insured. Accidents happen on a job site and you want to protect the workers and your property in case something happens. A contractor that carries proper insurance reduces your liability.
A licensed contractor is also a must because they’re held accountable by a licensing board. If anything goes wrong or the contractor fails to complete the work as described in the contract, you can report them.
And finally, a bonded contractor offers even more protection to you. If they fail to complete the work as agreed in the contract, you can make a claim and receive compensation. This cuts out the possibility of a contractor that will disappear with your cash since you have a way to get it back.
Get everything in writingFinally, the most important thing is to get everything in writing. That means contracts with a line-by-line scope, receipts, checks (even canceled checks) and anything else you discuss.
It’s also a good idea to set a price schedule in writing. Watch out for contractors who want half upfront as it might be an indication they have financial problems. Or they might know you’ll be unhappy with their work once you see it.
Normally for larger projects, contractors ask for 10% at signing with evenly spaced payments throughout the rest of the project. You’ll make the final payment when the finished job meets your satisfaction.
For a great place to start, check out Hartel Homes if you’re looking for a reputable contractor in Austin, Texas.
God, I just wish my house was smaller. Said no one ever. In fact, the opposite is more likely true because we could all use a little more space.
But it’s not just about having more. Sure, a bigger living room would be nice but it doesn’t help if you need an extra bedroom. And a bigger bedroom would be nice, but not if you have to share it with more people.
That’s where accessory dwelling units, or ADUs, come in. ADUs are small dwellings that are near or attached to your existing house. These units can include:
From moving a family member nearby to building extra income, ADUs are an excellent option for tons of reasons. And 2015 brought more relaxed building codes for the city of Austin, which has led to an increase in these smaller living spaces.
Whatever your specific needs, an ADU may be exactly what you need. Here’s a closer look at what it takes to build an accessory dwelling unit on your property.
Can You Afford an In-Law House?For starters, an ADU is part of the same property as your main home and typically isn’t sold separately. According to the city of Austin, construction costs are approximately $150 per square foot, not including professional fees or utility connections (which can run an additional 10-30k).
Before you start to think of building, you’ll need to figure out how to finance this project. Most homeowners use common methods like:
Keep in mind that cost is not always straightforward. You may be able to do some renovations yourself with the proper permits but the cost depends on the style and design you want.
Now let’s look at an overview of the entire building process to give you a better idea of what it takes to complete an ADU.
How Convenient is it really to build an ADU? Building an entirely new unit can seem overwhelming. But don’t get caught up in the details as there are many professionals that can help make the process quick and easier for you.
Before you begin planning, verify with the city that you’re zoned properly for this type of building. Then, make sure your building plans follow these city guidelines:
At this point, you might consider splitting the water and electric meters if you plan to rent the space out. Then, get the proper permits for building, removing trees or other major changes and you’re ready to build. Simple as that.
Overall, it’s a straightforward process and many local builders have experience with ADUs. Here’s a closer look at what’s been happening in Austin as far as building smaller dwellings.
What are Current Austin Trends for Accessory Dwelling Units? More and more people are investing in accessory dwelling units to satisfy a number of needs. Some of those needs include the option to house an adult child or elderly parent.
Having an additional dwelling in close proximity to the main house allows people to care for others without giving up personal space or privacy.
Other homeowners may use their ADU for additional income by renting it out. Depending on your circumstances, it may even make sense to move into the ADU yourself and rent out the main house.
These structures also contribute to the limited housing availability in Austin. Whatever your reasons, having an ADU offers the potential for a lot of flexibility.
How can an accessory dwelling unit improve your way of life and what would you use it for? Let us know by calling us directly or filling out the contact form above.