If you are in the process of deciding whether to remodel your current home or build a new, custom home, you probably have a lot of questions. Some of those questions may revolve around who you need to hire. What is the difference between a general contractor and a custom home builder? How do I know which one I need?
Most people nowadays want some customization in their home building or in their remodeling so the gap between general contractors and custom home builders is closing, but the basic difference still exists. General contractors typically work from designs, or a set of plans, that are set when a home begins and help you to coordinate all of the various workers and services to build or remodel your home. A custom home builder, in contrast, tends to be more heavily involved in design work from the beginning and has one large crew that is capable of handling the entire home build, except for maybe the licensed services of plumbing and electric. Some businesses, like Chad Goodin Signature Homes, can do either type of work successfully.
If you determine you are in need of a general contractor, there are some critical points you won’t want to keep in mind. These include:
- Don’t pay 100% of the cost until you personally inspect and receive 100% of what you paid for.
- Don’t pay more than 10% down for the work to be done upfront before receiving it.
- Request copies of all payments the general contractor makes to sub-contractors in your behalf.
- Use more than reviews to make sure you are working with someone reliable – get a few quotes for a build and research anyone you consider even before this point on Angie’s List, BBB, reviews, referrals, and other sources.
- Understand the subcontracting the general contractor you choose is going to use – since they are coordinating other teams to do the work, you want to make sure you know them, too.
- Sign a detailed contract. Double check the details are clear. Make sure it fits your vocabulary as much as it fits that of the contractor so there is not room for misunderstanding. If it is a more complicated design, including a picture(s) in the agreement can completely close any loopholes for misunderstandings or shortcuts.
- Make sure your general contractor has all the necessary permits for all aspects of the build.
- Stay in communication and set boundaries for how you work together up front.