When homeowners are planning a renovation project, one of their major goals is to find a competent construction company that is reputable, responsive & affordable. The good news is there are well over 20,000 licensed general contractors in the Los Angeles & Southern California area that perform construction services. The challenge for most people is narrowing down this long list of home improvement contractors to the ones that fit their needs and their construction project.
Here at GreatBuildz, we speak with clients every day who are looking for quality construction companies in Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura & San Diego Counties. GreatBuildz is a free service that connects homeowners with reliable, pre-screened home contractors, then provides ongoing project support to ensure a stress-free experience.
In this blog, we’ll share some ideas and resources to help guide you in finding the best home improvement contractors for your projects.
How do I find the best home renovation service near me?
The most ideal method to find quality construction companies is to ask your network of family, friends, or colleagues for recommendations. Hopefully, someone you know could recommend a construction service they’ve used and were satisfied with. If that residential contractor did a good job for your friend or family member, you should have a good level of confidence they will also do a good job for you.
If you can’t get at least three recommendations from your network, consider contacting a company that performs intensive contractor vetting and offers personalized introductions to good home improvement contractors (www.GreatBuildz.com or similar). It’s not recommended to just pick a random home renovation service from a flyer that came in your junk mail or from an online contractor listing site.
What kind of home improvement contractor do I need for my project?
If you’re only in need of minor work done at your house or have a long list of simple tasks, you can likely contact a handyman instead of a general contractor service. Jobs under $600 can be performed by a local handyman or service like handy.com.
Alternatively, if you have a larger project but it’s limited to one specific system or area of the house, it would make sense to contact a specific ‘trade’ construction service, like a roofer, painter, plumber, HVAC expert, or flooring installer, etc.
At the other end of the spectrum, if you’re planning any type of larger remodeling project, you’ll absolutely need a general contractor service. Larger projects include bathroom or kitchen remodels, home addition, garage conversion, whole house remodel, ADU, etc. Only home improvement contractor services that hold a General Contractor License are qualified and trained to handle these sorts of projects.
If you’re planning an exterior or backyard renovation, you might consider searching for a pool contractor or landscape contractor because they are specifically experienced in these types of jobs.
What do I look for in a good construction service company?
First of all, it’s important for you to meet the owner of the construction company in person. Sometimes the company will send a salesman, and that’s normal. But, keep in mind that you won’t be working with this salesperson during the project, and therefore, it’s more important to meet the owner or at least the project manager of the company.
You should spend as much time as necessary interviewing the service representative or owner to get comfortable with them and the way they work. If the meeting or interaction doesn’t feel right, you should move on. However, just because you liked them during one meeting doesn’t mean you should hire them right away.
Although your gut feelings about the contractor should be part of your decision-making process, it’s just not enough to make an informed hiring decision. Also, once you get prices for the construction services you need from several companies, be cautious of just selecting the cheapest one. Before you choose a construction company based purely on gut and price, please remember that choosing the wrong contractor can lead to tons of stress during the remodel or even a renovation nightmare.
At GreatBuildz, we’ve developed a 10-point vetting process to screen home improvement contractors. I suggest you perform as many of these steps as possible, but at least the following five actions:
1. Check online reviews. Carefully look for any negative reviews and decide how bad their actions seem to you. Ask the contractor to explain any bad reviews.
2. Check their contractor license online. In Los Angeles or California, you should navigate to CSLB License Database. Confirm that the home renovation service has an active license without any complaints or suspensions.
3. Get a copy of their insurance certificates and ask their insurance rep. if their company has had any claims or lawsuits.
4. Call at least 3 of their recent references and take a look at photos of their work. Ask their references “if there was one thing that the company could have done better, what would it be?”
5. Interview the owner of the company (or at least the Project Manager) and ask them any questions that are important to you.
Three Types of Home Improvement Contractors
As mentioned above, there are a large number of licensed home improvement contractors here in Southern California, and they come in all shapes and sizes and also all kinds of price-points. But in my experience, you can roughly classify most of these contractors into 3 types, each with their positive and negative attributes:
Small Home Improvement Contractors: These home improvement contractors are usually a one-man shop, where the owner either works alone or with a crew of only several workers. The owner generally works own of their home and can only service a few jobs at a time. This contractor’s price is often quite reasonable because they have very low costs and overhead. In some cases, their quality is quite good because the owner is doing the actual work and puts pride in the finished product. Alternatively, if the owner and crew aren’t experienced in some trades, their work will not be perfect. The main detriment to this type of contractor is their small crew which often translates to jobs that cannot be completed quickly.
Medium Home Improvement Contractors: In many ways, this is the sweet spot for contractors. The owner is actively involved and runs all the projects, but they have a strong crew and a multitude of sub-contractors in their network. This allows the company to take on multiple projects at the same time because they have sufficient staff to oversee all the projects. In addition, its very likely that your day to day contact is the owner of the company or a project manager who communicates with the owner daily. The costs for this type of contractor may vary depending on their specialty and location.
Large Home Improvement Contractors: This type of contractor operates like any large organization where you can expect that the owner is not involved in any client projects. You can expect all your communication to be with one of their salespeople first and later with the job superintendent or project manager. As you can imagine, its hard to get a sense of the quality of the company if you don’t have any exposure to its owners. You could have a wonderful experience if you are assigned a quality project manager or you could have a terrible experience if they assign a lower-quality team. A large contractor clearly will have an office, staff and larger overhead costs, and that could translate to higher prices on your project. This contractor has a large crew and can handle many jobs at once. Because the ownership has so many projects going on, they aren’t personally vested in the success of yours.
When it comes to finding the best home improvement contractor for your project – GreatBuildz is simplifying the contractor search in Los Angeles, Orange County, Ventura & San Diego. GreatBuildz is a free service that connects homeowners with reliable, thoroughly screened home improvement services and provides project support from start to finish.
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