Reputable and reliable general contractors near ATX

3 Replies

I'm looking for a GC in the Austin Tx area. I moved here 2 months ago and I'm putting together a team to flip at least 3 properties in the next 12 months.
Any suggestions on what to look for in a GC are also welcome. Never a bad thing to pick other's brains and learn more. Thanks!

I too am looking for the same thing! I'm looking to flip my first home in the next 6 months once I find the right house and am hoping for some contractor recommendations. I live in NW Hills and have an investment property in Cedar Park. I'm happy to share what I find; good luck!

 A good GC is not easy to find.  Sometimes you get a referral and you get lucky that GC works out. Sometimes even after a referral a GC may not work out for you.

Truth is you probably won't know if a GC is good until after you have gone through the bidding process with several companies, hired one and have them do at least some amount of work for you. 

One of the most important things you can do before you start interviewing GCs and getting bids is - develop a thorough Scope of Work. It's pain in the butt to do, it's time consuming. BUT it's very beneficial to both you and your GC.

Providing a good Scope of Work along with approximate quantities and counts for main tasks will allow various GCs price your project more precisely.  Most of them won't take time to measure the property and count what needs to be done until after they win the bid. Rather they will "err" on a high side early on.

Example of counts I'm talking about: 1,500sf of laminate flooring, 250sf of tile flooring, 300 sf of shower tile surround with 2 inserts for shampoo boxes, 400 linear feet of baseboard, 12 pre-hung interior doors with handles, 30 power outlets and switches, 3 vanities, 2 tubs, 10 recess can lights, 5 ceiling fans, etc., etc. 

Defining a fairly granular scope of work allows you to have your GC price these various tasks, and later invoice you specifically for the completed items from that list. This is contrary to what many GCs try to do when they develop a schedule of draws: 1/4 on start, 1/4 "when we have painted the place", 1/4 "when we install the flooring", and 1/4 on completion.  If you do the former, you'll never pay for the work that hasn't yet been done.

Lastly, developing a well thought out, comprehensive Scope of Work will help you avoid many "change orders". These are things you didn't think of in advance that you now have to add to the project or change from the original plan while your GC is working on site. All of these change orders will result in significant additional costs added to your original budget. 

As far as executing your project. In addition to GC being able to procure and complete the remodeling work, there has to be a good match in terms of GC's understanding your vision for the project, the flow of the design, the quality of finishes you are going for. Providing visual aids, photos of other properties could help in communiting your design ideas.

Ideally you also want to discuss and define every little detail of the project for every area of the house/apartment, positioning of every light and plumbing fixture, placement and dimensions for areas that need backsplace tile, pocket door installs, reframing and expanding certain areas to increase spaces for showers, living rooms, closets, new shelving to be built, opening up ceilings, re-routing plumbing, repositioning toilets, etc.

Then you hope that your ongoing communications will work well. And then, since you won't be on site all day long, how well GC will handle a "small decision" making process that happens at the work site multiple times every day for situations when your input wasn't  provided in advance.

Now, circling back to your question about referrals. There are a number of companies I've seen referred by other investors on a local Investor Underground forum. It's a Facebook group primarily for Austin area folks. You can Google it and request to join (it's free). 

Even folks referred there may or may not be a good match. I recently contacted a company that was most frequently referred by other investors as a GC for remodeling projects on that particular forum. I had their rep come out a bid on one of my projects. 

They looked good. They knew what they were talking about. There was no doubt in my mind they were quite capable to complete the project on schedule they suggested. However, they were the highest bidder out of 4-5 different GCs I tried. 

They provided a fairly detailed, itemized pricing for various project items. Some of the prices they had on their bid were literally retail level consumer prices that an investor-rehabber can't possibly pay and still make numbers work on a rehab. 

Investors who do a lot of rehabs regulary go through bad GCs that cost them money. Once they find a few good ones, they hold those close to their chest and try to keep them busy on their projects at all times.   

So... Here is a basic plan for hiring a GC:

(1) Ceate a comprehensive Scope of Work for your project with most important counts and measurements
(2) Get several GC referrals, ask them to see their work on other properties (ideally similar to what you're contemplating)
(3) If you like what you see, invite them to bid and hand them a printed copy of your Scope
(4) Walk them through your property and explain your vision for the project, bring your laptop to show pics of other remodeled properties you like
(5) Ask for detailed bids in writing with estimated start and completion dates
(6) Follow your gut in picking a couple of companies that looks trustworthy and capable (discard bids from those that don't impress you regardless of their costs)
(7) Review bids, see how prices from different GCs compare for the same items
(8) Negotiate bids with all remaining candidates to get to the costs level your project can afford
(9) Discuss how many people they'll have on site during most of work days they'll be working there. Obviously, 3-4 people working on site at all times is better and usually faster than 1-2. 
(10) Select a GC that ticks most of the boxes.
(11) Have a Contract for work prepared in writing (do NOT take their forms). 

The contract should cover at least:
- Parties 
- Address of the property where work is done
- Work start and end dates and if they can be adjusted based on certain events (for example, materials are not delivered on site by the time they are needed, or other legitimate delays)
- Who pays for materials and how materials are delivered to the site (request your contractor to provide an approximate schedule for materials/parts/fixtures to be needed on site for install prior to beginning of work)
- Price for work and schedule of draws (or at least that you'll develop and agree on schedule of draws prior to beginning of work)
- Bonuses for early completion or penalties for late completion
- Milestones for the project and your right to terminate the contract if the milestones are not met by Contractor
- Warranties on labor
- If the permits are pulled and who is responsible for that
- How / where Contract disputes are handled 
- Scope of Work (a detailed version of it is incorporated in the Contract and bth Parties sign it)

Happy remodeling!

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