How do I choose the right general contractor? This is probably the first question you’ll ask when thinking about your construction project.  The importance of hiring the right general contractor for your project, whether large or small, is paramount.

Your contractor is your guide in the process of bringing your vision to life, whether it’s brand new construction or a remodel. You want your general contractor to be qualified, highly experienced, trustworthy, and in constant communication with you during the construction phase.


1. Get Recommendations

Recommendations are still the best way to get a contractor, as long as you compare apples to apples. Remember, if you are going to remodel an entire house and your friend used a great contractor who remodeled a bathroom or a kitchen, look further into his company. Make sure whoever you’re considering has done similar jobs of the same size and complexity as yours. You want to know that your contractor has done projects similar to yours many times with a positive outcome.

2. Know the Number of People Employed by the Contractor

Are they all subcontractors or do they have their own staff? Is there an office staff to receive your calls or do you have to speak to an answering machine and wait for your call to be returned. Office staff ensures that you’ll be getting the proper paperwork that is required throughout these vast projects in a timely manner.

Go and see similar projects that the contractor has done prior to yours and talk to his or her references. Ask the contractor about the subcontractors that he or she will be using for your project. Do they use the same “team” on all of projects or do they select them based on price to make the estimate more competitive. As you narrow down your choices, ask to meet with the contractor and their “team” to see if you are comfortable with them and their knowledge of your project. Make sure that the contractor brings the team to the site during the bidding phase so that they have all seen the conditions of the jobsite in order to provide you with a realistic estimate.

3. Find out the Contractor’s Methodology for Performing the Work

Make sure either the owner, lead foreman, or project manager is present at the site daily to oversee operations, meet with the homeowners, architect and the subcontractors.

4. Get a Detailed Proposal or Bid From All Contractors

If plans are vague, then the Bid Proposal should be extremely detailed. If the Plans and Specifications are detailed, then the Bid Form or Proposal will be concise.

Contracts are also very important, if the blueprints are vague then the contracts have to be extremely detailed listing all items that the contractor is including and excluding from your project to help eliminate any gray areas. Once again, if the blueprints and specifications are very detailed, than a standard AIA Contract, or the contractors own standardized agreement, will be fine.

Remember, the contracts, blueprints and specifications are all outlines for both parties to follow from beginning to end. Insist upon “release of lien waivers” throughout the project to ensure that the contractor is paying all subcontractors involved.

5. Do Not Choose Your Contractor Based on Price

Your selection, no matter how tempting, should not be solely driven by the price. Look at the spread between all of the contractors. It should roughly be no more than 20%. If so, ask questions about why the prices are where they are. Perhaps the least expensive contractor did not analyze the work to be done in enough detail, or the highest bidder over analyzed. Very important… the math!

Ask how long the project will take to be completed. In addition, judging by the size of your project, get a rough estimation on how many men will be working on your project daily, ie. laborers, carpenters, masons, etc. (excluding subcontractors). Then inquire what the contractor’s billable rate is to determine an approximate labor cost for the duration of your project.

Now add in subcontractors and materials and combine the totals. By doing this, you should be able to determine what the most practical bid is. Remember, the taste of poor quality lasts long after the sweet taste of low price is gone! Your project will be long and tiring and annoying at times. You’ll be very excited to start, but after four, six or eight months, even if everything has been running smoothly, you’ll just want it all to end so normal life can resume again.

6. Check the Obvious Before Any Final Decision

  • Contact the Better Business Bureau to see if any complaints have been filed against the contractor.
  • Make sure that he or she is a licensed contractor and uses licensed subcontractors.
  • Check that all licenses are current and up-to-date.
  • Confirm the contractor has all the proper insurance.

Choosing a contractor is like a marriage. Remember, you’ll be seeing this person every day for the duration of your project, so be sure that you not only like their price, but you like their personality, business ethic and quality of work.

At M.J.S. Contracting we understand the importance of our relationship with homeowners, architects and municipalities. Contact us today to schedule a FREE consultation for your construction or remodeling needs, and experience the M.J.S. Contracting difference.

Stephen Moliterno
Founder and President
M.J.S. Contracting Corp.
Phone: 914-636-5262
Fax:  914-636-5274

From new construction to additions, remodels to restorations, M.J.S. Contracting has a long-standing reputation as the top qualified, most respected and trusted high-end general contractor in Westchester County, NY.  At M.J.S. Contracting, we are renowned for our intricate attention to detail and ability to seamlessly drive a project to fruition.  We do this all in support of making your home dreams a reality with professional and exquisite craftsmanship.  Fully licensed and insured, our exceptional quality workmanship guarantee, unprecedented project management and dedication to customer care, enable us to deliver a complete, custom construction solution with minimal disruption to you and your home.