Everyone is aware that planning a home remodeling or renovation project can be daunting. People understand that the cost will be significant, that construction will certainly disturb their lives, and that much research is necessary to identify and select the best general contractor or best remodeling contractor.
Choosing the best contractor can be the difference between a wonderful remodeling experience and a “renovation nightmare”; therefore, this is the most crucial element of the project; and this article is intended to provide some advice. Numerous web resources list a large number of ‘highly-rated’ Orange County general contractors; this may make it appear easy to find a reputable general contractor. However, I will give you two statistics that may convince you otherwise. First, in Orange County alone, there are over 5,000 licensed General Contractors, not including plumbers, electricians, roofers, etc.
With so many alternatives, it may no longer feel easy to select the best one. Second, in a recent survey, more than fifty percent of renovating homeowners reported having a poor experience with their contractor or remodel. This astounding figure demonstrates the significance of selecting the best contractor!
Here at GreatBuildz, we speak with clients every day who are looking for the best remodeling 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 in Los Angeles and Southern California, 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.
2023 Guide to the Best General Contractors in Orange County
Most contractors have extensive construction knowledge, whereas the client typically does not. A dishonest contractor can easily deceive a client regarding costs, quality, materials, etc., and the client has no way of knowing.
In addition, there is no easy way for a homeowner to assess the following criteria about a contractor before hiring them: Are his employees qualified and diligent? Is he or she accountable and responsive? Does he take pride in his work? Is he/she now overbooked with projects? When a contractor wants to win the job, they will undoubtedly just showcase their positive attributes and not the bad ones.
Sadly, the majority of homeowners discover their contractor’s faults far too late (as the 50% statistic demonstrates). If a general contractor performs substandard work, overcharges the client, fails to finish the job, or acts unethically, homeowners have no realistic recourse once the project has begun.
When a customer fires a contractor in the middle of a project, the client is forced to find a replacement contractor ready to complete the work. One option is to file a complaint with a bond or licensing agency, but doing so is time-consuming, frustrating, and does not guarantee a positive outcome. Frequently, the only viable option is to file a lawsuit, which is incredibly expensive and difficult.
How to Find a Contractor
The ideal method to identify a quality general contractor for your renovation is to ask friends, neighbors, or trusted colleagues if they’ve hired one they liked. Make sure to request Orange County general contractors who perform the same type of project as you need to be done.
If you need a general contractor for the construction of an ADU or addition, a referral to a plumber is not useful. Additionally, if you look for recommendations on Facebook or any other online platform, you should only believe the advice of “real-life” friends. Other contacts you don’t personally know are frequently biased (their brother is a contractor, etc).
If you don’t get any good recommendations from individuals you know and need to go elsewhere, start with services that undertake the most extensive contractor screening and offer individualized introductions to reliable contractors (www.GreatBuildz.com or similar).
Related: Get Matched With Outstanding Home Remodeling Contractors
The worst alternative is simply browsing national contractor listing/review websites. Because there are so many general contractors in Orange County and most of them seem to have a great 4-5 star rating, there is no way to distinguish between those who are actually good and those who appear to be good due to attractive photos and questionable reviews.
How can you determine which contractor is the best if you’ve narrowed your search to a handful? Again, this is not as straightforward as it may seem. Unfortunately, many people make hiring decisions based solely on the lowest quote and their “gut feeling” about the contractor. These steps are a good start but are completely insufficient to distinguish between the good and bad guys. When you meet a remodeling contractor, they are on their best behavior to sell you their services.
Obviously, the price estimate is important, but it tells you nothing about the company’s reliability and integrity. Due to the fact that these two criteria are insufficient to pick the best contractors, a homeowner should do as many screening measures as possible to avoid a renovation nightmare. This is detailed on our website on the “vetting” page.
At GreatBuildz, we’ve established a ten-point screening process to determine which Orange County general contractors are the best. I recommend that every homeowner takes as many of the following steps as possible to avoid a renovation nightmare, but at least the following five:
- Check their online reviews. Read any negative reviews to decide how unacceptable their behavior seems to you, and feel free to contact the contractor for an explanation. A significant amount of negative reviews (particularly within the last two years) indicates a pattern, and you should reconsider selecting this company.
- Online contractor license search. To check your license status in California, visit https://www.cslb.ca.gov/OnlineServices/CheckLicenseII/CheckLicense.aspx. Here, you may verify that the company you’re considering has a valid license, check the names of the company’s owners, see if they have any infractions on their license, and discover the length of time the company has been licensed.
- Call their insurance agent and obtain a copy of their insurance certificate. Inquire whether they have filed any insurance claims in the prior few years.
- Call at least three references and review photos of their previous work. If you get the chance to visit one of their previous renovations in person, do so.
- Interview the owner (or at least the Project Manager). Especially prevalent among larger Orange County contractors, the person at your initial meeting is typically just a salesperson, one of several on staff.
When calling the contractor’s references, be sure to inquire specifically about their experience with the contractor and the job.
- What is the one thing that the contractor could have done better, in your opinion?
- Can you advise me on the best way to work with this contractor?
- What precautions should I take during the construction process?
Due to the fact that no project is flawless (even when managed by a competent contractor), these references can provide insight into the specific challenges they encountered. You can prepare for these obstacles and raise this concern with your potential contractor in advance.
Related: How to Find The Best Home Improvement Contractor
How do I check a contractor’s background for credibility and safety?
During this screening, you will be on the lookout for any red flags that indicate a contractor should be avoided. The more items you investigate, the more likely you are to discover a red flag… If there are no red flags, you can be confident that you’ve identified a quality professional. Some potential warning signs to be aware of:
- A contractor who requests a substantial deposit in order to “hold” your job on their schedule.
- A contractor who takes more than a week to meet with you or provide an estimate is either overworked, disorganized, or terrible at following up.
- A contractor that is aggressive, boastful, doesn’t appear to respect your budget and scope, or disparages other contractors. This is a really poor sign; if he or she cannot respect your wishes and listen to you now, the situation will only worsen during the project.
- A contractor whose license is quite new. This individual is either inexperienced or was required to obtain a new license due to difficulties with their old one.
- If you locate a contractor who spends a lot on marketing, such as beautiful full-page mailers, fully-wrapped vehicles, pricey social media advertising, etc., he or she will likely be the most expensive professional, so be sure to obtain multiple quotations.
There are plenty of additional possible red flags – you will recognize them when you see them (i.e. too many bad reviews).
Who Are The Best General Contractors Near Me?
When meeting general contractors in Orange County, the more you prepare in advance, the more streamlined the bidding and hiring process will be. Before meeting with remodeling professionals, there are a number of essential steps that every homeowner should do. First, you should have a rough budget for your project.
This entails knowing what your ‘neighbors’ are paying for comparable projects. You might begin your investigation online, but be sure to obtain only local and recent project budgets. Ideally, you should inquire with friends, neighbors, etc. about recent prices in your region.
Creating a scope of the things you want to be included in your project and presenting it to every contractor that submits a bid is another crucial step to do in advance. This will ensure that each contractor has the same understanding of the project and increase the likelihood of receiving bids that include the same elements.
Ideally, you would have some ideas for the materials you intend to use. This will allow each general contractor to more accurately estimate your project.
What Are The Best Questions To Ask a General Contractor?
Ensure that you are prepared with a list of questions for your meeting, and have each remodeling contractor answer them to your satisfaction. Some questions are below:
- What do you anticipate the duration of the project to be?
- Will you acquire the necessary permits and maintain compliance with all applicable regulations?
- What are your labor and material guarantees and warranties?
- Do you prefer working with clients that already know what they want, or are you willing to offer suggestions?
- Would you be willing to assist with the choice of appliances, paint, flooring, countertops, and other materials? Do you go shopping with clients? Do you make purchases for them?
- What hours would your employees be present? How frequently will the owner be present?
- Will a foreman or project manager be present at all other times?
- How frequently will the general contractor and homeowner meet in person or over the phone to keep us apprised of the project’s progress and any concerns as they arise?
- How will changes to the project’s scope be handled? Written change orders? Verbal approvals?
- When should I anticipate a proposal? Will it include both labor and materials? What won’t it contain?
How Do I Evaluate Contractor Quotes?
Assuming you have evaluated and identified the best general contractors, your decision may come down to their cost. You must carefully examine their estimates and not assume that the prices are based on the same scope of work and materials. Estimates for the same project can frequently vary drastically, so I wrote an extensive blog post on why contractor bids sometimes differ, but here are a few general explanations.
- The motivation of a contractor to win the work. If a contractor is experiencing a slow spell, they want more work to keep their staff occupied.
- A contractor with significant overhead and expenses will charge you more.
- The contractor’s view on the project. Although you are clear about what you want to be remodeled and try to communicate this to each prospective contractor, they each have their own ‘understanding’ of the project’s requirements.
- Some general contractors have their own construction team, while others rely only on more expensive subcontractors. When meeting with a contractor, the greater your knowledge of the remodel’s scope and budget will increase the likelihood of receiving the most accurate and comparable estimate.
In addition, you will need to thoroughly examine these contractor estimates because it is common for bids to range significantly in terms of what is and is not included. A lower estimate is not a bargain if it omits a significant number of items that should be included.
In addition, some remodeling estimates may include allowances for finishing materials, whilst others presume the homeowner will purchase these items.
If you have trouble evaluating or comprehending quotes, ask the contractor for clarification, contact our GreatBuildz staff, or read this blog post about comparing bids.
Related: How To Deal With Contractors Overcharging You?
When it comes to finding the best remodeling contractor for your project – GreatBuildz is simplifying the contractor search. GreatBuildz is a free service that connects homeowners with reliable, thoroughly screened Orange County general contractors and provides project support from start to finish. GreatBuildz serves Los Angeles, Ventura, & Orange Counties.
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