Are contractors slow to answer your calls?

Learn From These 10 Mistakes Before You Start Talking to Contractors

3min read
by Olesia Chikunova, ADU Specialist.

general contractor

General contractors can take on a wide range of residential projects, from small repairs to remodeling an entire room, complete home renovation or building a house. They can also work with a variety of materials, so you can be sure they will be able to handle your project.

Plus, because they have years of experience and training, you can rest assured that the work will be done properly.


Who Is A General Contractor?

A general contractor (GC) is an organization or individual that acts as the overall coordinator of a construction project. Typically, the general contractor is responsible for hiring and managing sub-contractors, obtaining the necessary permits, and ensuring that the project is completed on time and within budget. In some cases, the general contractor may also be responsible for providing materials and equipment.


Best general contractors typically have a wide range of skills and experience in the construction industry, making them well-suited to coordinate complex projects. While some general contractors work directly for clients, others work for engineering firms or commercial construction companies. The skillset of commercial general contractors differs from what is required during construction work at residential projects.


If you are planning a construction project for the first time, it is important to choose a reputable and experienced GC who can ensure that the project is completed successfully.


If you’re thinking about hiring a general contractor, here are some services you should expect them to offer. Mind, not every contractor offers the full scope of these services. Please inquire before you sign the contract. Do not forget to check the state license.

Services Offered By A General Contractor

There is a variety of services that a general contractor can offer. These services can be broadly categorized into three main categories: construction services, project management services, and design services.


Construction Services: Construction services are the most basic and essential services offered by a general contractor. This type of service includes all the necessary tasks required to complete a construction project, such as excavation, concrete work, framing, and finishing. However, it makes sense to match a construction company to specific project. You do not need a general contractor with an A type license for a new kitchen or living space renovation project. Depending on scope of work you may need trade specific licenses, that of a plumber or electrician. For new build you will need type B general contractor license.


Project Management Services: Project management services are more specialized services offered by a general contractor. This type of service includes tasks such as scheduling, coordination, and supervision of construction projects. It also involves other aspects such as quality control at job sites and cost estimation to make sure you get fair price per square feet.


Your project manager acts as a liaison between subcontractors, city inspectors and consultants. She visits job sites as needed to review contractor questions and requests. She also calculates take offs for tile and slab materials, order materials and coordinate delivery. A project manager makes sure the entire process is as seamless for the home owner as humanly possible and is completed in a timely manner.


Design Services: Design services are the most creative and artistic services offered by a general contractor. This type of service includes creating drawings and plans for construction projects, as well as selecting materials and finishes. Design services may also include project management tasks such as coordination and supervision. As you might have guessed, it is not realistic to expect full range of services from one person. A general contractor will have interior designers either on payroll or affiliated that they trust with developing architectural drawings.


This is different from what you would expect of an Interior Designer whose responsibilities often include the following:

  • Research specs, finishes, fixtures and lighting, order samples
  • Work on creating final selections for finishes, plumbing fixtures, lighting, paint etc.
  • Take you to showroom and help making interior selections
  • Create finish, fixture and lighting schedules
  • Draft space plans and detailed, dimensioned interior elevations including cabinet layouts using a CAD program
  • Design and purchase cabinetry, window treatments, and textile goods
  • Coordinate ordering and delivery with you and your contractor


New home construction is the most demanding of all residential building projects. It takes years to assemble a good team and constant effort to keep the crew together. It takes time to select the best service providers and vendors. It is absolutely unrealistic for a homeowner to think that they can pick up the phone and assemble a list of trades to complete an entire build and not have a few flakes. Sequencing, overlap, and coordination including various permits and inspections can all be blown up in an instant with just one flake. A licensed contractor is not a middleman taking a cut.


Companies that offer full range of services are often called design-build firms. However, if you are looking for a better deal you might often find it with small businesses that have less overhead costs. Most important thing is to confirm that the contractor has done high-quality work on such projects before and has liability insurance to cover any other risks.

Construction is a hot topic. As in any market, it is an issue of supply and demand, and right now the demand for construction labor across US, and even more so in Bay Area, is high, while supply of it is low. This literally means a contractor can pick and choose his clients, and the client has to present her project in a way that makes a contractor take this job.

I am not talking about multi-million dollar projects. These are relatively rare and still sought after.  I am talking home additions, accessory dwelling unit construction, average bathroom or kitchen remodels.

There is also a certain unspoken cut off point for every contractor when he decides if he should or should not take this particular project. So you have to understand when you need to look for a handyman, and when for a design-build firm. However, some rules are the same across the board.

What are the red flags for contractors and reasons for not calling back a potential client?

Why would they not provide a written estimate after meeting a potential client?


Red Flag #1: Asking contractors for free estimates.

If you want a realistic custom estimate, be prepared to pay for it. Asking for a free estimate is asking someone to work for you for free. Why would an experienced and most likely sought after contractor do that? You will get a rough order of magnitude number, but never a fixed bid. Just too many details go into it. We know, we do estimates for ADUs all the time.


Red Flag #2: Talking about tight budgets.

If one of your first sentences in your conversation with a contractor is about costs and tight budget, you are giving all the wrong signals. Looking for a quick fix is also a wrong verbiage to use.


Red Flag #3: Promising contractor other jobs to come.

Whether by mentioning other bids, or important connections, you might be trying to make sure they will give you the good price. The reality is you are shooting yourself in the foot: what a contractor hears is you are not prepared to trust him or her.


Contractors love clients with permits and budgets

If you find it difficult to find a contractor to help you with your project, start with getting the permit for the job.

Learn More about Our Permit Expediter Services

Red Flag #4: Saying you will be doing some of the job yourself.

There are some contractors that will let you demo or paint, but most just won’t.

Red Flag #5: Saying you need it done tomorrow.

This assumes that you have picked a contractor that had nothing to do till you called. Sounds bad for both of you. Why should you pick a contractor who does not have jobs lined up? Why have you waited till the last minute?

builder, contractor

Red Flag #6: Trying to save on materials by buying it yourself.

In this case you should know a lot more about construction than an average Joe or Jill.

It really slows the contractor down, it will take him twice as long to explain it to you, than to just go and get it himself as usual. And please, do not expect any warranty in this case.

Red Flag #7: Trying to get an itemized bid and then cutting short the admin or management fee.

Do not assume that management fee is deductible. It takes a lot of admin support to move the project forward. The smaller the project, the more support it needs. Do not ask to break down into 20 various individual jobs. Or ask to separate labor and materials. And tell straight away what you have allocated for finishes, furniture and fixtures. The contractor does not know if you are planning to install a $300 or $4000 Toto toilet.

Red Flag #8: No scope of work.

Please be prepared. Do your homework. Have a list of things you want done – in order if priority. You are more than likely to underestimate the current costs, so some compromise most likely will be needed.
Drawings, sketches, idea boards are truly helpful to get everyone on the same page.

Red Flag #9: No clear budget.

What is your budget? A good contractor will always ask this question. They want to know if you have realistic numbers in mind, and they definitely do not want to waste their time. You are not doing any favors to yourself , or to the contractor by not disclosing the budget. Here is an example of how we talk about ADU budgets.

Red Flag #10: Saying you could do it yourself. Or saying it is an easy job.

Then just do it. Because a remodel is never easy. Downplaying work a contractor does is impolite.
Especially when you are talking a kitchen or bathroom remodel in a house build in the last century (98% of the time).

Working out a scope of work on a new home or ADU is what we do

Day in. Day out.

Benefits Of A General Contractor

There are many benefits of working with a GC. Perhaps the most obvious benefit is that they can save you a lot of time and hassle. A good GC will be able to take care of all the details of your project, from start to finish. This means that you won’t have to worry about dealing with different subcontractors or suppliers, or keeping track of progress yourself.


Another big benefit is that a contractor can often get you better deals on materials and labor. This is because they have established relationships with suppliers and subcontractors, and they know how to negotiate the best prices. In addition, a good contractor will usually be able to get discounts for bulk purchases, which can save you even more money.


Finally, working with a contractor can also help protect your investment. If something goes wrong with the project, or if there are any problems with the quality of workmanship, you will have someone to turn to who can help fix the problem and get your money back. This is especially important if you’re planning on selling the property in the future. By working with a reputable contractor of good standing, you can ensure that your investment is protected.


When choosing a GC, it’s important to do your research and make sure that you’re working with someone who is reputable and has a good track record. You can check out their website, work history, read customer reviews, and make sure their business entity has not been set up yesterday.


Is A General Contractor Important?

Any time you are planning a home improvement project, it is important to have a contractor. A general contractor (GC) will handle all aspects of the project from start to finish. This includes hiring subcontractors, obtaining building permits, scheduling inspections, and ensuring that the job is completed on time and within budget. GCs are also responsible for managing day-to-day operations on the job site, ensuring that workers are productive and safety standards are met.


In addition, they must be able to resolve conflicts and deal with unexpected problems that may arise. As you can see, a GC plays a vital role in any home improvement project. Without one, the chances of the project being completed on time and within budget are greatly reduced. Therefore, if you are planning a renovation or addition to your home, be sure to hire a reputable GC who can get the job done right and the final product is to client satisfaction.


What Is The Cost Of Hiring A Contractor?

Homeowners often face the daunting task of hiring a GC when they need home repairs, renovations, or improvements. The cost of hiring a general contractor can vary widely, depending on the size and scope of the project. Project cost depends on scope, location, time line and a million of other factors.


For large-scale projects, such as remodeling a kitchen or bathroom, the cost can range from $200 to $800 per square foot. Homeowners should also factor in the cost of materials when budgeting for a project. In general, it is advisable to get at least three estimates from different contractors before making a final decision. By taking the time to compare prices and services, homeowners can ensure that they get the best value for their money.


A general contractor can provide a wide variety of services to their clients. Some of these services include remodeling, painting, flooring, handyman work, and more. If you are in need of any of these services, be sure to contact a qualified and experienced general contractor.