Planning a home remodeling or renovation project can be daunting. People are aware that the cost will be substantial, that construction will undoubtedly disrupt their lives, and that extensive research is required to identify and choose the best general contractors in Ventura County.
Choosing the right contractor can be the difference between a pleasant remodeling experience and a “renovation nightmare”; therefore, this is the most important aspect of the project, and the purpose of this article is to offer guidance. Numerous online resources feature a large number of ‘highly-rated’ Ventura County general contractors; consequently, it may appear to be simple to find a reputable general contractor. However, let me provide a statistic that may change your mind. There are over 3,000 licensed General Contractors in Ventura County, not including trade contractors like HVAC, plumbers, roofers, etc.
With so many options, selecting the best one may no longer feel so simple. In addition, a recent survey revealed that over fifty percent of renovating property owners had a negative experience with their contractor or remodel. This staggering number illustrates the importance of selecting the ideal contractor!
Here at GreatBuildz, we speak with clients every day who are looking for the best general contractor for their home improvement or construction project. GreatBuildz is a free service that connects homeowners in Los Angeles, Orange County, Ventura or San Diego with reliable, pre-screened general contractors, then provides ongoing project support to ensure a stress-free experience.
Give us a call at 818.317.3567 or visit our website at www.GreatBuildz.com to learn more and discuss your project.
The Challenges of Finding the Best General Contractors
The majority of contractors possess extensive construction expertise, whereas most clients typically do not. A dishonest contractor can easily mislead a client about costs, quality, and materials, and the client has no way of knowing.
In addition, there is no straightforward method for a homeowner to evaluate the following characteristics of a contractor prior to employing them: Are his employees competent and conscientious? Is he or she reliable and proactive? Do they exhibit professional pride? Are they currently overbooked with projects? If a contractor wishes to win the job, he or she will undoubtedly highlight only their positive qualities and not their negative ones.
Unfortunately, the majority of homeowners discover their contractor’s flaws far too late (as evidenced by the 50% statistic). After the project has begun, clients have no realistic recourse if a general contractor performs subpar work, overcharges the client, fails to complete the job, or acts unethically.
When a client fires a contractor in the midst of a project, the client must find a replacement contractor who is prepared to finish the work. One option is to file a complaint with a bonding or licensing agency; however, doing so is time-consuming, frustrating, and does not guarantee a favorable outcome. Frequently, the only viable option is to file litigation, which is both incredibly costly and challenging.
How to Find a General Contractor in Ventura County
The best way to find a reputable general contractor for your renovation is to ask friends, neighbors, or dependable coworkers if they have ever engaged one they liked. Make sure to request general contractors in Ventura County who perform the same type of project as you need to be done.
If you need a general contractor for the construction of an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) or an addition, a referral to a plumber or handyman is useless. In addition, you should only trust the advice of “real-life” peers when searching for recommendations on Facebook or any other online platform. Other contacts that you do not know firsthand are often biased (their uncle is a contractor, etc.).
If you are unable to obtain good referrals from people you know and must look elsewhere, commence with services that conduct the most thorough contractor screening and provide individualized introductions to reputable contractors (www.GreatBuildz.com or similar).
The worst option is to browse national contractor listing/review websites. Because there are so many general contractors in Ventura County, and the majority of them appear to have a fantastic 4-5 star rating, it is impossible to distinguish between those who are actually good and those who appear to be good due to attractive photos and dubious reviews.
Vetting General Contractors in Ventura County
How can you determine the best contractor once your search has been narrowed to a handful? Again, this is not as simple as it may appear. Unfortunately, many individuals base their hiring decisions solely on the lowest bid and their “gut feeling” regarding the contractor. These steps are a decent first step, but they are insufficient to distinguish between good and bad people. General contractors are on their best behavior to sell you their services when you meet them.
Obviously, the price estimate is essential, but it provides no insight into the company’s dependability and honesty. Due to the fact that these two criteria are insufficient to select the best contractors, a homeowner must conduct as much screening as possible to prevent a renovation nightmare. This is detailed on the “vetting” portion of our website.
At GreatBuildz, we’ve established a ten-point screening procedure to identify the top Ventura County general contractors. To avoid a renovation nightmare, I recommend that every homeowner adopt at least five of the following steps:
Check their online ratings and reviews. Read any negative reviews to determine how unacceptable you find the contractor’s conduct, and feel free to contact them for an explanation. A large number of negative testimonials, especially within the past two years, indicates a pattern, and you should reconsider selecting this company.
Online inquiry for contractor licenses. Visit the CSLB to verify the status of your license in California. Here, you can verify that the company you’re considering has a valid license, check the names of the company’s proprietors, determine if they have any infractions on their license, and learn how long the company has been licensed.
Get a copy of their insurance certificate by calling their insurance agent. Ask if they have lodged any insurance claims within the past three years.
Conduct an interview with the proprietor (or at least the project manager). Particularly prevalent among larger Ventura County contractors, the person at your first encounter is typically a salesperson, one of many on staff.
Call at least three references and examine photographs of their past work. If you have the opportunity, you should visit one of their previous renovations in person. Inquire specifically about their experience with the contractor and the project when contacting the contractor’s references.
What is the one item you believe the contractor could have done better?
Can you advise me on how to operate most effectively with this contractor?
What safety precautions should I take during construction?
Due to the fact that no project is flawless (even when managed by a competent contractor), these references can shed light on the particular obstacles they faced. You can anticipate these same challenges and voice this concern with your prospective contractor beforehand.
Screening General Contractors for Red Flags
How do I verify a contractor’s background and credibility?
You will be watching out for any red flags that indicate a contractor should be avoided during your screening process. The more items you examine, the more likely it is that you will discover a red flag… If there are no red flags, you can be confident that you’ve found a competent professional. Some possible warning indicators to watch out for:
A contractor who requests a significant retainer to “hold” your project on their schedule.
A contractor who takes longer than a week to meet with you or provide you with an estimate is either overworked, disorganized, or dreadful at following up.
A contractor who is aggressive, boastful, appears to disregard your budget and scope, or disparages other contractors. If he or she cannot respect your wishes and attend to you now, the situation will only worsen as the project progresses.
A contractor with a relatively recent license. This person is either inexperienced or was required to obtain a new license because of issues with their previous one.
If you find a contractor who spends a lot of money on marketing, such as full-page mailers, fully-wrapped vehicles, expensive social media advertising, etc., he or she will likely be the most expensive professional; therefore, you should obtain multiple estimates.
There are numerous other potential red flags; you will recognize them when you see them (e.g., an abundance of negative reviews).
Staring your Ventura County General Contractor Search
The more prepared you are prior to meeting general contractors in Ventura County, the more streamlined the bidding and hiring process will be. Before meeting with remodeling professionals, every homeowner must take a number of essential measures. Initially, you should have a budget estimate for your endeavor.
This requires knowledge of what your ‘neighbors’ are paying for similar undertakings. You may start your research online but be sure to collect only local and recent project budgets. You should ideally inquire with acquaintances, neighbors, etc. about recent prices in your area.
Creating a project scope checklist and presenting it to each contractor who submits a proposal is another essential step to complete in advance. This will ensure that each contractor has the same understanding of the project and increase the likelihood of receiving proposals with identical scopes.
Ideally, you would have some sense about the materials you will use. This will enable each general contractor to estimate your project more precisely.
Questions to ask Potential General Contractors in Ventura County
Which Questions Should You Ask a General Contractor?
Ensure that you bring a list of questions to your meeting and that each general contractor satisfactorily answers them. Several topics are listed below:
How long do you anticipate the job will last?
Will you obtain the necessary permits and comply with all applicable regulations?
What labor and material guarantees and warranties do you offer?
Do you prefer to work with clients who know precisely what they want, or are you willing to make suggestions?
Would you be willing to help select appliances, paint, flooring, countertops, and other materials? Do you purchase with your clients? Do you purchase items for them?
What hours are your employees scheduled to work? How often will the proprietor be present?
Will a project manager or foreman will be present at all other times?
How often will the general contractor and proprietor meet in person or by phone to update us on the project’s progress and address any issues as they arise?
How will modifications to the project’s scope be dealt with? Documented change-orders? Verbal consent?
When can I anticipate receiving a proposal? Will both labor and materials be included? What won’t it include?
How to Evaluate Bids from Multiple General Contractors in Ventura County
Assuming you’ve evaluated and identified the most qualified general contractors in Ventura County, your decision may come down to their fees. You must examine their estimates thoroughly and not assume that the prices are based on the same work and materials. Estimates for the same project can frequently vary significantly, so I wrote a detailed blog post on why contractor proposals can sometimes vary, but here are some general explanations.
A contractor’s motivation to secure the job. If a contractor is experiencing a lull in business, they’ll seek additional work to keep their employees occupied.
A contractor with substantial overhead and expenses will charge a higher rate.
The contractor’s view of the project. Although you are aware of what you want to be remodeled and will attempt to convey this to each prospective contractor, they each have their own ‘understanding’ of the project’s requirements.
Some general contractors have their own construction staff, while others rely solely on sub-contractors.
The more you know about your remodel scope and budget before meeting with a contractor, the more likely you are to receive the most accurate and comparable estimate.
In addition, you will need to carefully examine these contractor estimates because it is common for bids to differ substantially in terms of what is included and what is not. A low estimate is not a bargain if it excludes a significant number of necessary items.
Furthermore, some remodeling estimates may include allowances for finish materials, whereas others assume the householder will purchase these items.
If you have difficulty evaluating or understanding bids, ask the contractor for clarification, contact our GreatBuildz staff, or read this blog post on comparing bids.
When it comes to finding the best general contractor for your project – GreatBuildz is simplifying the contractor search. GreatBuildz is a free service that connects homeowners with reliable, thoroughly screened Ventura County general contractors and provides project support from start to finish. GreatBuildz serves Los Angeles, Ventura, & Orange Counties.
We serve all Ventura County regions: Camarillo, Ventura, Agoura, Thousand Oaks, Oak Park, Fillmore, Ojai, & Santa Paula.
Call now (818.317.3567) to chat with a real person about your next renovation project or visit our website for more information: www.greatbuildz.com